Oregon conservationists lament killing, highlight contrasting approaches to wolf management and wildlife conservation.
Portland, Oregon - Various sources have confirmed that an Oregon wolf known to biologists as OR-16 was killed Saturday near Lowman, Idaho. The wolf was fitted by state biologists after being accidentally trapped last November. The 85-pound yearling male was in good health and later found to be a member of the Walla Walla Pack.
In December, OR-16 crossed the border into Idaho. He became the second Oregon wolf to be killed in Idaho as part of that state’s recreational hunt. As of Wednesday, 958 wolves have been killed in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming as part of recreational hunts aimed at dramatically reducing the population of the recently endangered species. Wyoming’s wolf plan allows an unlimited number of wolves to be killed by any means in the majority of the state.
Last February, just weeks after the world celebrated the epic travels of Journey (OR-7), his littermate (OR-9) crossed the Snake River and was illegally shot by a hunter who was issued a warning for poaching. Other notable wolves including collared wolves from Yellowstone National Park have been killed as part of the hunts.
The announcement comes on the heels of great news for Oregon’s wolves as the state announced last week that Oregon’s known wolf population had increased to at least 53 wolves and as many as five breeding pairs. In 2012, Oregon’s wolf killing program was under a court-ordered hold. With the state not killing endangered wolves, many responsible livestock owners increased efforts at reducing conflict. As a result the population of wolves nearly doubled while losses to wolves were nearly cut in half.
Despite the good news, conservationists caution that wolf recovery in Oregon remains tenuous. Nearly half the state’s wolves are pups less than a year old. Many will not survive the winter. Additionally, with the harsh management of wolves taking place in neighboring states, Oregon can no longer count on healthy populations to boost recovery here.
Below is a statement from Rob Klavins, Wildlands & Wildlife Advocate for Oregon Wild:
"When Journey arrived in California he was celebrated as an international conservation success story. When his brother swam the Snake River he was greeted by a hail of bullets and illegally killed. Tragically another Oregon wolf has followed in his footsteps. It's a stark reminder of why it's so important we get things right in Oregon.
"America has come a long way since we feared the myth of the big bad wolf and purposely tried to eliminate entire species from the landscape. When bald eagles and gray whales were removed from federal protections, everyone celebrated. When wolves were stripped of their protections as part of a political deal in 2011, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming celebrated by opening recreational killing seasons that have now claimed nearly 1,000 wolves - more than half of the known population in the Western United States.
"It's particularly sad that this comes on the heels of Oregon's great news of wolf recovery and decreasing conflict. In a country that values native wildlife and conservation, pushing recently endangered species back to the brink isn’t good for anyone ; certainly not wolves."
The news was first reported on the Oregon Wolves Facebook page. Further information will be posted there.