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Report: A Mixed Bag for Wolf Recovery in OR

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Friday, March 7, 2014   

SALEM, Ore. – Today in Salem, the topic is the state of the gray wolf population in Oregon.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission hears the annual wolf management figures for 2013. And commissioners will learn that the state's wolf population has grown slightly, and there weren't many run-ins with livestock.

Only 13 incidents were confirmed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as wolf-related, and ranchers lost five cows and six sheep.

Rob Klavins, a wildlife advocate with Oregon Wild, describes the state's wolf management plan as a challenging compromise for all sides. But he says the figures indicate it appears to be working.

"We're far from perfect, but we're doing the best job we can and I think we're doing better than most states,” he stresses. “We have a wolf plan that does allow the state to kill wolves on behalf of the livestock industry, but only as an option of last resort. And when you only have 64 wolves in the state, that makes a lot of sense."

Klavins points out pups represent one-fourth of Oregon's wolf population, and wolf recovery remains tenuous.

There also were some wolf casualties in 2013, mostly from parvovirus but one death by poaching in December that's still under investigation.

Two Oregon wolves were killed legally last year after crossing into Idaho, a state where wolves are shot for sport.

The Idaho Legislature is pondering whether to spend $2 million to target more.

Klavins says it's hard to make headway for wolf recovery when neighbors deal with the issue so differently.

"That's really putting recovery in Oregon at risk, and what happens in Idaho matters in Oregon,” he says. “And if you manage wolf populations to the absolute minimum required by law, that's really teetering perilously close to re-listing wolves and putting them back on the endangered species list – and I don't even think that's what Idaho wants."

The 2013 report says Oregon has eight wolf packs consisting of at least four wolves each.

But only half of them meet the state's species recovery criteria of having a breeding pair – a male, a female and at least two pups.




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