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Ethics Complaint Filed against OR Lawmakers over Wolf Bill

There were about 80 gray wolves in Oregon when the animal was removed from the state's endangered species list. (Gary Kramer/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
There were about 80 gray wolves in Oregon when the animal was removed from the state's endangered species list. (Gary Kramer/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
May 3, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - The conservation group Cascadia Wildlands filed an ethics complaint on Monday against three Oregon state representatives.

The group says the lawmakers misrepresented House Bill 4040, which approved the state's decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

Last month, the Oregon Court of Appeals cited the bill when it threw out a challenge to the Fish and Wildlife Commission's decision.

Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands, says lawmakers assured his group the bill would not affect the judicial review of the delisting.

"The main problem with this bill is that the talking point in Salem behind the bill was that it would not influence our lawsuit, our judicial review, in any way," Cady says. "And that was just blatantly not true."

The complaint was filed against Representatives Greg Barreto, Sal Esquivel and Brad Witt, all Republicans. It says they "repeatedly denied" that the bill would hamper judicial review of the delisting.

The legislators say the bill was passed simply to confirm the Fish and Wildlife Commission's decision.

There were about 80 gray wolves in Oregon at the time the commission made its decision in November.

While the species has made an impressive recovery since it was first listed as endangered, Cady says the process is now being derailed.

"That is a huge wildlife success story that we should all be celebrating," Cady says. "Instead, we have to spend our time, organizationally and as a state, fighting resistance to this recovery."

Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, and the Center for Biological Diversity challenged the decision in December.

They argued that it was not based on the best available science and, even though gray wolf populations are recovering, the groups contend delisting is still too premature to give the species a viable chance in the state.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR