Shawn Cantrell, Defenders of Wildlife’s northwest director, testified at today’s meeting and issued the following statement:
“We are deeply disappointed to see the Fish and Wildlife Commission approve a state delisting of wolves when only the barest minimum requirements have been met. The better and more cautious alternative would have been to downlist wolves from endangered to threatened and not delist them entirely. This would have continued to provide vital state protections for wolves, while also recognizing the progress the state has made to recover wolves in the eastern part of the state. More importantly, it would have left wolves fully protected in the western part of Oregon, where they are only just starting to expand and are in the earliest stages of recovery.
“Unfortunately, the commission decided to prematurely delist wolves without first updating and amending the Oregon Wolf Management Plan, which is overdue for a planned update. It will be critical that any subsequent revision of the plan maintains protocols for using non-lethal conflict avoidance tools, like livestock guarding dogs or fencing, to reduce potential livestock-wolf conflicts.
“Oregon recently has been a real leader emphasizing non-lethal conflict management between livestock and wolves so that wolves can continue their recovery in the state. Given the commission’s decision on delisting today, it will be all the more critical for Oregon to continue to emphasize and promote non-lethal strategies for allowing wolves and livestock to coexist on the same landscapes.
“Defenders has recently expanded its staffing presence in Oregon and intends to continue to work tirelessly for wolf conservation in the state through whatever means or opportunities that are available.”