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Oregon meets criteria to delist wolves

COURTESY: ODFW - Wolves in Northeast Oregon have been taken off the federal endangered species list but remain on the state list. Now they're eligible for delisting in Oregon.SALEM — Taking wolves off Oregon’s endangered species list won’t significantly affect their management because the state wolf plan would remain in place, according to a biological status review that was presented to the state wildlife commission on Friday.

Taking no action on the delisting question, however, might undermine support for the 10-year-old wolf plan, “thereby reducing public tolerance for wolves,” the report concludes.

The report compiled by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists says the state’s wolf population continues to increase in “abundance and distribution” and has met the required criteria for delisting in every instance.

Discussion of the report at Friday’s commission meeting in Florence was billed as an informational biological status review, with no action scheduled. The commission’s ultimate decision will come when it meets again Nov. 9 in Salem.

The meeting also coincided with controversy over ODFW’s refusal to authorize killing Mount Emily Pack wolves that repeatedly attacked a sheep herd this summer, and with the unsolved deaths of two wolves known as the Sled Springs Pair.

To take wolves off the state endangered species, the commission must make five findings. They are: Wolves aren’t in danger of extinction in any portion of their range; their natural reproductive potential is not in danger of failing; there’s no imminent or active deterioration of their range or primary habitat; the species or its habitat won’t be “overutilized” for scientific, recreational, commercial or educational reasons; and existing state or federal regulations are adequate to protect them.

Each of the criteria is examined in depth in the report. “The probability of population failure is very low,” the biologists concluded.

Wolves in Northeast Oregon have been taken off the federal endangered species list but remain on the state list. The federal listing still applies in the rest of the state, including where the famous traveling wolf, OR-7, resides with his pack in the Southwest Oregon Cascades.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduced 66 gray wolves into Idaho and Wyoming in 1995-96. As expected, a few Idaho wolves migrated to Northeast Oregon beginning in 1999. Oregon’s first pack, the Wenaha, was documented in 2008.