Wold Update 2016

Map of distribution of wolves in December, 2016.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released its 2016 Wolf Annual Report and a Draft Revised Wolf Conservation and Management Plan Tuesday.

Presentations of both documents will be made to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission at its April 21 meeting in Klamath Falls. The draft plan will also be presented at the May 19 commission meeting at the Embassy Suites Portland Airport. These presentations will be informational and not for adoption. Public comment is welcome at both meetings and by email at odfw.commission@state.or.us.

Below are some highlights from the annual report, which summarizes 2016 wolf management activities and results of annual winter surveys:

  • ODFW counted 112 known wolves in Oregon in 2016, up two wolves from 2015. Counts are based on verified evidence, including tracks, signs, remote camera photographs and visual observations, and are considered a minimum known population.
  • Surveys reported 11 packs, eight of which were breeding pairs.
  • 2016 was the third consecutive year with more than seven breeding pairs in eastern Oregon, which moved the East Wolf Management Zone into Phase 3 of wolf management.
  • The wolf population continued to expand in distribution to new areas in northeast and southwest Oregon.
  • Two previously occupied areas of wolf activity have changed, including the newly-named Harl Butte Pack, which is using part of the area formerly held by the Imnaha pack.
  • ODFW radio-collared 11 wolves last year.
  • Staff monitored collared wolves in 10 groups during 2016.
  • ODFW confirmed 24 livestock depredation events by wolves in 2016, an increase from 2015.
  • Seven mortalities were documented in 2016, including three radio-collared wolves.

The draft plan implements the latest science about wolves and includes new sections on potential conservation threats to wolves and non-lethal measures to prevent wolf-livestock conflict. It also updates information about wolf status, population, distribution and management improvements based on field experience.

“When the plan was first developed, Oregon had no known wolves and relied heavily on information from other states,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf program coordinator. “This review of the plan incorporates more information from Oregon, and adds a great deal of new science about wolves.”

The commission first adopted the plan in 2005, and the new draft plan offers more details on policies, such as the inclusion of additional guidelines and prerequisites for the controlled take of wolves.

Other policy issues addressed in the draft plan include:

  • A more stringent definition of chronic depredation in Phases 2 and 3.
  • The continuation of requirements to use non-lethal measures before consideration of lethal control of depredating wolves.
  • A citizen advisory group to improve information sharing and collaboration between ODFW and stakeholders.
  • The exploration of survey methods that do not require capture of wolves.

Cascadia Wildlands, however, opposes several proposed changes in the draft plan, such as the use of Wildlife Services to target wildlife and ODFW’s provision to kill wolves as response to wolf conflict with ungulates or livestock.

“In the past, Wildlife Services has grossly overestimated depredations attributed to wolves in Oregon, thereby showing their long-held bias toward livestock interests and against wolves,” said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands.

“Cascadia Wildlands is encouraged by the state of Oregon’s continued focus on pro-active, non lethal measures to prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock before they happen,” Laughlin added.

For more information and to view both documents, visit www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves.

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Business, Natural Resources and Outdoors Reporter

Emily Hoard is the business, outdoors and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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