The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced last month that it recommends delisting the gray wolf from the state Endangered Species Act (ESA) since the species has met the necessary criteria to no longer require protection under the act. The recommendation will be discussed during the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting next week in Salem.

“Delisting would result in no immediate changes to wolf management in Oregon. Wolf management is guided by the Wolf Plan and its associated technical rules, not the species’ ESA listing status,” said ODFW wolf coordinator Russ Morgan said in a press release. “But delisting allows the Plan to continue to work into the future.”

Oregon’s Wolf Plan was drafted in 2005 and called for initiating a process where the species could be delisted. The Fish and Wildlife Commission looks at several factors when considering a potential delisting, including whether the species is in danger of extinction in any portion of its range, what sort of protections the species has for its habitat, if the species is in decline, and if the animal is not reproducing normally.

Fish and Wildlife officials say that wolves in Oregon are doing quite well and listed several reasons why the species should be removed from the ESA. The following list is from the ODFW:

  • Wolves are represented over a large geographic area of Oregon, are connected to other populations, and nothing is preventing them from occupying additional portions of Oregon.
  • The wolf population is projected to continue to increase. The overall probability of extinction is very low and genetic variation is high.
  • Wolf habitat in Oregon is stable and wolf range is expanding.
  • Over-utilization of wolves is unlikely as the Wolf Plan continues to provide protections for wolves and any commercial, recreational or scientific take in the future is regulated by the Commission.
  • The Wolf Plan ensures protection of wolves in the future, regardless of ESA status.

“The state’s Wolf Plan adopted in 2005 was an agreement between stakeholders reached after one of ODFW’s largest public processes,” Morgan added. “The Plan called for delisting consideration after wolves reached a minimum conservation threshold and envisions wolves being delisted as Oregon moves into future phases of management.”

There are 81 known wolves currently living in Oregon.

Image courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

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