April Wildlife Update: The Political Will

There is definitely no shortage of things going on for Oregon’s wolves and wildlife. This month’s newsletter is a comprehensive look at legislation in Salem affecting wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s draft wolf management plan, and the latest development from Governor Brown in appointing new members to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission. Don’t miss all the ways you can take action to help Oregon’s wildlife!


The annual wolf report is out. How are Oregon's wolves faring? The state saw modest growth: an addition of 13 animals in 2018, bringing the total minimum count to 137. While it’s satisfying to see Oregon’s wolves gaining their foothold once again in the state, it is troubling that dispersal out of the northeast part of the state is limited. Wolves on Mt. Hood and the newly discovered Indigo wolves in Lane and Douglas county are cause for celebration, however we only saw a net increase of one animal west of the Cascades Mountains. 

The annual report gives us a window into the status of wolves in Oregon. After reading this year’s assessment, one thing is certain: wolves in western Oregon need federal Endangered Species Act protections to allow them time to recover and disperse. The Trump Administration’s latest proposal to prematurely remove these protections would undermine this recovery. If you haven’t already done so, please be sure to submit a comment to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before May 14th. 

One of the Trump Administration’s arguments for supporting wolf delisting is to transfer wolf management to the states. Perhaps good in theory, but in reality, many of these cash-strapped states have been advocating for killing wolves faster and removing requirements around non lethal deterrence. Take Oregon for example, ODFW’s latest draft of the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan would not only lower the threshold for when wolves could be killed to 2 predations in 9 months, but it would also allow members of the public to hunt and trap wolves on behalf of the agency. This Wolf Plan does a disservice to the best available science and undermines what the majority of Oregonians want. Unfortunately, Governor Brown has done little in way of intervening, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission is now scheduled to vote on this Wolf Plan, June 7th in Salem.


Happy to say that a bill to ban the use of M-44 cyanide bombs in Oregon-- SB 580-- will likely pass the Oregon legislature this week. Wildlife Services, the rogue arm of the USDA that is hired to kill wildlife, often deploys these indiscriminate devices in order to kill coyotes, foxes and other animals. However, because these cyanide “land mines” are like sprinkler heads on the landscape, non target animals, pets, and even people have become collateral damage. It’s about time they were banned.

In other good news, the potential return of the California condor in Oregon is perhaps closer than expected. US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Yurok Tribe have developed a plan to reintroduce the native species to the Pacific Northwest. If approved, the plan would include reintroducing condors to Redwood National Park, not far from the Oregon border. Public meetings will be taking place in Portland and Medford to discuss the plan in greater detail. These meetings are open to the public. Additionally, a public comment period on the environmental assessment will be open through June 4th.


-Governor Brown recently announced her candidates for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. With five seats (out of seven) up for appointment, the Governor has a real opportunity to bring meaningful change to the Commission that has long been run by special interests with an anti-science and anti-conservation agenda. The Willamette Week’s feature story exposes her inability to bring real change this important decision-making body. 
-Pollinators are the coolest. Enough said. 


As we approach Endangered Species Day (May 17th), be sure to keep an eye out for local events to celebrate this important day. If you’re in Portland, we hope to see you at the Oregon Zoo on May 18th for their Endangered Species Day festivities.


If you haven’t already done so, please call Governor Kate Brown and let her know that Oregonians expect her to do better and correct course on her Fish and Wildlife Commission slate. And while you’re add it, you might want to tell her that a wolf plan which includes public hunting and trapping is unacceptable! 503-378-4582.