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Oregon takes over gray wolf protections after federal delisting

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has taken over all management of the gray wolf population in the state after the Trump administration removed the species from Endangered status.

Posted: Jan 4, 2021 4:23 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2021 4:30 PM

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has taken over all management of the gray wolf population in the state after the Trump administration removed the species from Endangered status.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally delisted gray wolves in the lower 48 states from federal protections on Monday, leaving management to state wildlife agencies.

In a statement, ODFW underlined that wolves remain protected in Oregon — hunting and trapping of the wolves remains illegal statewide.

"The major change from federal delisting is that under the state’s Wolf Plan, lethal control could be allowed in situations of chronic livestock depredation when non-lethal measures have been unsuccessful at eliminating conflict," ODFW said. "However, a number of other criteria must also be met."

Based on wildlife officials' accounting, the number of wolves in Oregon has grown from 14 in 2009 to approximately 158 by the end of 2019.

Under Oregon's Wolf Management Plan, wolves in the western area of the state — west of Highways 97, 20, and 395 — remain in "Phase 1," which is considered the conservation phase of recovery, because there are fewer than four breeding pairs in the zone. Wolves on the east side are in Phase 3.

As of 2019, there were 17 known wolves (three packs) in the western zone, compared to 141 known wolves (19 packs) in the eastern zone. The East Zone was removed from federal protection in 2011.

Under Phase 1 in particular, farmers and ranchers are urged to focus on non-lethal measures to deter wolves that prey on livestock. The unauthorized killing of a wolf is punishable under Oregon law, and there have been several such illegal killings in recent months.

“We thank all landowners in areas with wolves for going the extra mile to implement non-lethal measures over the past few years,” said ODFW Director Curt Melcher. “We know that regardless of whether or not you lose livestock to wolves, their presence requires changes to your business practices, and we thank you for taking these steps to reduce conflicts with wolves.”

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