Webcast: Unpacking the Status of Oregon's Wolves

A wolf sitting in the snow

Wolves once had a range that covered a vast majority of North America. A concentrated killing campaign drove wolves to the brink, and it is only through hard-fought conservation efforts that these native animals have started to re-establish across their range. Wolves are still slowly returning to the places their ancestors once howled and roamed. Unfortunately, short-sighted politicians have resumed the last century's war-on-wolves, threatening to undo decades of recovery. This webcast provided a thorough overview of the status of wolf protections.

Key Points:

  • Wolves are an iconic native, flagship, umbrella, and keystone species. 

  • Wolves are not a threat to livestock and actually killing wolves due to conflict is counterproductive as there are ripple impacts from losing pack members that don't translate to less predation. 

  • Once the widest ranging animal in the West, wolves were systematically exterminated and 1947 marked the last wolf bounty.

  • In 2005 conservationists convinced the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to create Oregon’s wolf plan; however, this was not based on science and instead a social and political compromise that gave the livestock industry much of what they wanted.

  • In 2011 Eastern Oregon wolves were stripped of protection. There were only 29 wolves in all of Oregon at the time. This unwise decision included language to shield it from review. 

  • In 2015 Oregon delisted wolves across the state. 

  • Updates to the wolf conservation and management plan were adopted in 2019,  and relaxed requirements, which made it easier to use lethal means for wolf and livestock conflict. 

  • In 2020 there were 173 known wolves in Oregon, 22 packs, 17 breeding pairs, 4 poached, 9 total mortalities, and 31 confirmed depredations. 

  • Wolves in Eastern Oregon were removed from the federal ESA in 2011 and in Western Oregon, they were removed in 2020. This means that there are different procedural rules driving federal protections for wolves in Oregon. 

  • In 2020 the Trump administration delisted wolves federally. This was not scientifically sound.

  • Now individual states are driving management, which isn’t the best for the species recovery.

  • Because of heinous management decisions and expanded trophy hunting and trapping by individual states such as Montana and Idaho, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether wolves in the West (including Eastern Oregon) warrant relisiting. There is currently an open comment period. We encourage everyone to submit a comment urging the Service to relist wolves in the West immediately.