Help Recover Wolves in the Pacific Northwest - Act by July 1
US Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting the first ever status review of wolves in the Pacific Northwest. The small number of wolves in Washington (and their much larger habitat in western Oregon and northern California) is distinct from the recently delisted Rocky Mountain wolf population, and we need to make sure their future status is protected.
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On the heels of an anti-wolf federal budget bill rider that immediately removed Endangered Species Act protections for Rocky Mountain wolves, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would conduct the first ever status review of wolves in the Pacific Northwest. The review will determine if Endangered Species Act protection is still warranted for this majestic animal in the Pacific Northwest and could set the future course for the recovery of wolves on the West Coast. Since wolves are not recovered in the Pacific Northwest, and there is ample habitat here to support sustained and reproducing wolf populations, the USFWS need to maintain ESA protections for the wolf.
Only a little more than a century ago, wolves roamed the Klamath-Siskiyou region in relative abundance. A systemic campaign to exterminate the species brought about their virtual extinction in the entirety of the Lower 48 by the 1940s, but recovery efforts mandated by the Endangered Species Act met with relative success in the Northern Rockies in the latter part of the 20th Century. As this slowly rebounding population grew, competition for territory caused family units and individuals to migrate, with wolf sightings in eastern Oregon first occurring in 1999. That wolf was trapped and sent back to Idaho, and the next two were killed. In 2005, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife developed a wolf management plan that allowed for the presence and recovery of wolves in the state.
The Imnaha Pack, whose progenitors were likely dispersers from Idaho, began establishing its territory in rural eastern Oregon, but quickly came into conflict with ranchers. In reality, the wolves’ depredation on livestock doesn’t even constitute a notable fraction of the total livestock death rate, but ODFW quickly began killing wolves that might have depredated and issued kill-on-site permits exceeding the total number of wolves in the state to any rancher that asked for them.
This second round of extinction efforts is made possible by the recent passage of a Congressional legislation to delist the wolf, removing its Endangered Species Act protections despite scientific opinions that the species was not fully recovered to the point of genetic viability. This represents the first time that Congress has forcibly interfered with endangered species recovery and is a chilling indicator of where wildlife management may be headed.