Oregon Wolf Plan is sound

By Greg Dyson October 28, 2009 01:56 pm

With the recent wolf activity in Northeast Oregon, we have heard repeated calls from the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, and some ranchers, for the authority to shoot wolves. Ironically, it’s the cattlemen’s association itself that has blocked such a measure taking effect.

When the Oregon Wolf Plan was drafted in 2005, conservation groups, including Hells Canyon Preservation Council and Defenders of Wildlife, agreed to give ranchers the authority to shoot wolves caught in the act of attacking their livestock. Since giving this authority to ranchers would weaken Endangered Species Act standards, it required legislative approval. Yet every time it has come up for approval in the Oregon Legislature, the Cattlemen have assured the death of the legislation by pushing for even broader authority to shoot wolves.

In the meantime, the bulk of the Oregon Wolf Plan did not require legislative approval, and is currently being used by ODFW as guidance for wolf management in Oregon.

Oregonians have spoken loud and clear that they want wolves back in the state. Wolves are native wildlife to Oregon, and new science continues to demonstrate the vital role wolves play in the ecosystems that we Eastern Oregonians so treasure.  The question is no longer whether we are going to have wolves, but instead the question is how are we going to coexist with them?

The Oregon Wolf Plan is a sound and balanced wolf management plan. It protects wolves as they return to Oregon, yet as recent events in Baker County show, also allows for the shooting of depredating wolves when all non-lethal means of management fail. After approval by the Legislature, the Wolf Plan would also allow for ranchers to shoot wolves caught in the act of attacking their livestock. All that’s blocking the full implementation of the plan are the ranchers who keep demanding more than is reasonable.

A diverse coalition of Oregonians worked together to develop the Oregon Wolf Plan. It is a solid plan that addresses the scientific, social and economic issues connected with the return of wolves to Oregon. Conservationists have shown a willingness to compromise in order to make the Wolf Plan work. Now it’s time for the cattlemen to work together with their fellow Oregonians and stop blocking the full implementation of the Oregon Wolf Plan.

Greg Dyson is the executive director of Hells Canyon Preservation Council in La Grande and a Western Wolves Coalition steering committee member.