Friday, July 8, 2016

Wolf delisting lawsuit adds bite to its bark

OR-3, a three-year-old male wolf from the Imnaha pack. Image captured from video taken by an ODFW employee on May 10, 2011 in Wallowa County.
OR-3, a three-year-old male wolf from the Imnaha pack. Image captured from video taken by an ODFW employee on May 10, 2011 in Wallowa County.
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Court of Appeals has changed its original decision and decided to hear a lawsuit against the state filed by animal rights activist groups that opposes the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list statewide and manage it under the Oregon Wolf Plan.

It will also allow the activists to argue about House Bill 4040, passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2016, that endorses the commission’s decision to move to managing the wolf under the plan that was hammered out between activists and livestock producers. Most major media outlets refer to the bill as a Republican plan to circumvent the lawsuit. One of its main sponsors, Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) sharply refutes that description.

“It was never to avoid environmental groups suing,” he said. “In fact, the lawsuit had already been filed. It was to support ODF&W’s decision. Both houses passed it and the governor signed it.”
Hansell said it is ridiculous to refer to it as a Republican bill, since that party is in the minority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“House Bill 4040 was a bipartisan vote, and a good one,” he said. “To describe the issue as being ‘a Republican bill to avoid judicial review’ is inaccurate.”

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Greg Barreto (R-Cove). The same bill was sponsored in the Senate by Hansell, but the House of Representatives seemed to offer more support for it, so that’s the version that eventually became law.

A total of 16 Democratic representatives and senators voted in favor of it, including Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney. In addition, it was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, also a Democrat.


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