It’s Ground Hog day in the Northwest, as Wolf Wars plays out over and over. Oregon and Washington’s tiny wolf populations are being subjected to the same “wolf hysteria” that plagues the rest of the Northern Rockies.
Here’s a good article from the NYT on the state of wolf wars in the Pacific Northwest.
Conflict Over Northern Rockies Delisting for Wolves Extends to Pacific Northwest
By LAURA PETERSEN of Greenwire
Published: June 16, 2011
While the battle over Northern Rockies gray wolf management has been most visible in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, wolf issues are also heating up in the Pacific Northwest as Washington and Oregon strive to manage small but growing packs.
Environmentalists are blasting Oregon wildlife managers for killing two wolves last month, dropping the state’s wolf population to 17. The state also has issued 30 permits authorizing land owners to kill wolves caught attacking livestock or dogs.
Meanwhile, Washington is struggling to develop a recovery and management plan that satisfies both wolf advocates and opponents as wolves move back into the state, which is now home to three confirmed packs.
Gray wolves in the eastern third of Washington and Oregon were removed by Congress from the federal Endangered Species List in May along with wolves in Montana, Idaho and parts of Utah. The Northern Rockies delisting measure was inserted into a last-minute budget deal funding the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year (Land Letter, May 5).
However, wolves are still protected by federal law in Wyoming and in the western two-thirds of Oregon and Washington. State law also protects wolves in the two Pacific Northwest states, where the animals were once abundant before being extirpated as ranching and farming expanded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
But as Rocky Mountain wolves slowly recovered after the late 1970s, some of the animals began to trickle into the Pacific Northwest, giving rise to conflicts between ranchers, property owners and wildlife advocacy groups “When wolves came into Oregon, they came into a different political, social and ecological landscape,” said Rob Klavins, wildlands advocate for Oregon Wild. “We had a hope Oregon could do better than places like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, and up until last year we had this feeling of ‘all right, we can avoid the wolf wars.’”
But last week, Oregon Wild joined a coalition of 11 groups in writing to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife accusing the agency of violating its management plan and state law by baiting wolves back to the site of reported depredations and failing to adequately document and publicly share information about non-lethal measures taken to prevent depredations before issuing kill permits.
The agency also has approved the killing of a third wolf and distributed at least 30 take permits to livestock owners.
The coalition requested that the take permits issued to ranchers be suspended until some of their concerns are resolved. But so far, Oregon regulators have no plans to do so.
Michelle Dennehy, an ODFW spokesperson, said regulators are adhering to the state’s 2005 wolf management plan, which calls for establishing four breeding pairs — defined as a mated male and female that produce two pups that survive to their first birthday — but also allowing for the killing of wolves that are witnessed attacking livestock or dogs.
“We need to meet our conservation mandate, but we also have to address chronic livestock losses when they occur,” Dennehy said.
Oregon’s wolf management plan earned qualified support from both environmentalists and ranchers when it passed six years ago, in part because the plan requires that non-lethal actions be taken to deter wolf predation before sanctioned killings can occur.
Until last month’s two wolf takings, only two wolves had been killed in Oregon for livestock depredation since 2005.
But, Klavins said, “Last year, some wolves were seen on private property, and we started to see the beginnings of wolf hysteria.
“What started to happen was every single dead cow was of course a wolf kill … when further investigations were showing that for the most part that wasn’t the case,” he added.
Anti-wolf sentiment appears to be growing in the region, with some critics describing wolves as “four-legged piranhas of the West,” even though depredation accounts for a small fraction of livestock losses. In 2010, fewer than a dozen cows and calves were killed by wolves compared to 55,000 lost to disease, weather and other causes, Klavins said.
Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Posted in: Wolf Wars
Tags: wolf hysteria, wolf wars, Pacific Northwest, Oregon wolves, Washington wolves