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Mar-07-2019 15:14printcomments

Federal Gray Wolf Delisting Brings Oregon Contrary Responses

"Ranchers, landowners, environmental groups, and government agencies all want and depend upon a healthy ecosystem."

gray wolf
Gray Wolf in snow
Photo by pixabay / Pexels

(SALEM, Ore.) - Today, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced the Trump administration’s intent to remove endangered species protections for wolves in the lower 48 states. The administration will release the proposal to the public in the next few days.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife reports that there are at least 124 known wolves in the state of Oregon today, well above the goals set by the state Wolf Plan, and this number has increased annually since 2009. In fact, they say wolves recently have been found as far west as the Oregon Coast.

The U.S. population of gray wolves also far surpasses recovery targets called for by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Oregon Farm Bureau applauds the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife Service’s proposal to remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list. They say the recovery of the gray wolf in Oregon and other states is a conservation success story by any measure.

John Mellgren, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, responded differently.

"Given that gray wolves in the lower 48 states occupy such a small percentage of their historical habitat, it is almost laughable for the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine that they are successfully recovered.

"We look forward to taking the Fish and Wildlife Service to court should its proposal not be based on what the science tells us.”

OFB says that the federal delisting will help simplify Oregon’s patchwork of laws. "Right now, because of such strong recovery rates, wolves on the east side of the state are not covered by the state endangered species law, only the federal ESA.

"The federal delisting proposal is also a laudable example of successful collaboration between ranchers, landowners, environmental groups, and government agencies. All of these stakeholders want and depend upon a healthy ecosystem.

"We are glad the Trump administration has joined both the Obama and Bush administrations in supporting the federal delisting of the gray wolf, basing decisions on sound science, and negotiating with a diverse group of stakeholders.

"We hope this will inspire greater collaboration at the state level around wolves and their increasing harm to livestock and Oregon’s ranching families."

“Wolves are a keystone species whose presence on landscapes regulates animal populations and improves ecosystem health – something the Service has acknowledged for at least 44 years,” said Kelly Nokes, Shared Earth Wildlife attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center.

“Allowing people to kill wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana has already stunted recovery in those states. Applying this same death-sentence to wolves throughout the contiguous U.S., would nationalize these negative effects, with potentially catastrophic ripple effects on ecosystems wherever wolves are found today.”

WELC has said they will challenge any premature removal of endangered species protections for gray wolves by the Trump administration that does not meet the Endangered Species Act’s clear and strong scientific requirements.

Source: Oregon Farm Bureau; Western Environmental Law Center

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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