As we close out 2019, I’d like to extend a huge thanks to you for not only being a wolf pack supporter, but also speaking up for the protection of Oregon’s wildlife. It’s because of people like you who care so deeply that we’re able to be an effective voice for the state’s imperiled wildlife. Thank you!
Well, we saw that coming. Just a few weeks ago, the Oregon Appellate Court decided to dismiss a legal challenge brought to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on behalf of Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, and Center for Biological Diversity. Conservationists argued that ODFW did not use peer-reviewed, best available science when they removed wolves from the state endangered species list in 2015. Unfortunately, the court determined that due to legislation that was passed in 2016 and signed by Governor Brown -- HB 4040, a bill that affirmed ODFW’s decision to delist wolves-- it rendered the conservationists’ case moot and blocked judicial review of the agency’s science and administrative process.
Despite what sponsors of the bill claimed, blocking judicial review was always the intended outcome of HB 4040. And they did it. Because of this political move by the legislature, the livestock industry, and Governor Brown, ODFW will escape any legal consequences of not following the best available, peer-reviewed science when they prematurely stripped wolves of protections. It’s disappointing, to say the least, but in a state that is as polluted by corporate money as Oregon, it’s not entirely surprising.
It’s rare that the Fish and Wildlife Commission considers multiple conservation measures at one time, so the fact that December’s meeting had both marbled murrelet and the Humbold marten on the agenda made for a busy day in Salem!
First up: the Humboldt marten. Earlier this fall, the Commission voted to ban trapping of this highly imperiled species west of the I-5 highway (a major highway that bisects Oregon), banned all mammal trapping in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (where a very small, isolated population of martens live), and banned tree traps and snares in the Siuslaw and Siskiyou National Forests. While high fives were given, celebratory candles were blown out back in September, technically the Commission still had to finalize new language being added to an Oregon Administrative Rule. In simpler terms: the Commission needed to finalize the trapping ban, which meant a door was left open to backtracking on their previous decision. Luckily, things didn’t go sideways and as of December 6th, the trapping ban is final!
Speaking of a time when the Commission backtracked on a previous decision to protect a species, the marbled murrelet was also on the docket for December’s Commission meeting. As mentioned in last months’ newsletter, on remand from the circuit court of Oregon, the Commission had to decide if they were going to uphold their previous decision to list the imperiled seabird as endangered, or justify their later reversal. Ultimately they decided that because there are five new people on the Commission, it makes the most sense to review the latest science and allow for public input. Although this seems like a promising sign, there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure these new Commissioners understand the science, the law, and the public’s values.
IN THE NEWS
Wonderful to see this native Oregon species making a comeback after the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge!
A new study by Oregon State University highlights the importance of western forests in mitigating climate change and enhancing biodiversity.
As Oregon starts to address reducing human-vehicle collisions and protecting more critical habitat corridors, this story provides an interesting overview of how roadkill became a conservation issue in the first place.
Happy New Year! See you in 2020!
You have till January 20th to submit your nominations for the Wild and Scenic Rivers designation! Oregon’s waterways provide critical habitat for a variety of species, which is why it’s imperative we protect them! Thank you Senator Wyden for your leadership. Now let’s go big!