Wolf Population Shows Modest Increase

25 February 2015 | Center for Biological Diversity News Release

PORTLAND, Ore.— Oregon’s wolf population has increased by 13 wolves since the end of 2013, according to the latest annual wolf population estimate released this week by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The estimated gain, to 77 wolves from 64 one year ago, represents only a 20 percent increase, falling far short of increases the two previous years when the wolf population first doubled, then tripled from three years ago. The state wildlife agency confirmed nine wolf packs and six new pairs, with a total of eight breeding pairs.

“We’re glad to see the wolf population in Oregon is still increasing, but it’s clearly not yet recovered,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s far too soon for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to even consider removing protections for the state’s wolves.”

In a recent update to its wolf webpage, the state wildlife department indicates that wolves in Oregon have now reached population goals that trigger initiation of a state delisting process. By comparison the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently determined that the entire Mexican gray wolf population, which is at 109 animals, warrants continued protection as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“There’s no science in the world that says that 77 wolves is a viable population,” said Weiss. “Oregon’s wolves are only now beginning to return to historic habitat like the Cascades, and continued protection is needed to make sure these amazing animals are allowed to fully recover in Oregon.”

Each year the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issues an annual wolf report and the report released on Tuesday contained the new population estimate, as well as pack-specific details and information about any wolf-livestock conflicts that occurred. According to the report, even though Oregon’s wolf population, pack numbers and breeding pair numbers increased from the year before, wolf-livestock depredation incidents decreased.

In 2011 the Center and allies filed a legal challenge against the state for violating the Oregon Endangered Species Act by killing wolves for conflicts with livestock. The lawsuit ultimately resulted in the Department of Fish and Wildlife adopting new rules for the use of nonlethal methods to reduce conflicts with ranchers. In the three and a half years since the suit was filed, no wolves have been killed in agency control actions. But while the wolf population has increased, wolf-livestock conflicts have not increased.

“It’s great to see this strong evidence of how well Oregon’s wolf plan has been working to keep conflicts to a minimum and to keep the wolf population on course toward eventual recovery,” said Weiss. “But the modest population increase reported this year makes clear that we need to stay the course and not embark on a management strategy that would result in more killing of wolves.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Contact: Amaroq Weiss, (707) 779-9613, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org


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