BEND, Ore. – The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has re-evaluated the state’s wolf management plan, including relaxing guidelines to allow ranchers to “harass” wolves causing problems with livestock.
Gray wolves, which were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, have migrated west to Oregon in recent years, decades after the predator had been killed off.
The five-year plan approved Friday attempts to adjust to a growing number of wolves in the state. State officials have agreed on wolf population goals to get the animal off Oregon’s endangered species list.
In the original plan, ranchers could get permits to harass wolves after the animals caused problems with livestock over a 48-hour period. Now the commission has changed the guidelines so that any wolf-livestock conflict is enough to furnish a permit.
“We believe that by relaxing that, and saying that if you have a conflict, why not harass the wolves and get them out of there?” said Russ Morgan, wolf coordinator with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
But some ranchers attending the meeting were not pleased that the state is not considering easier guidelines for them to kill wolves that hunt livestock.
“As a rancher, I’ve got to have the tools in my toolbox to protect what’s mine,” said Tik Moore, a Baker County rancher, who had several calves hunted by wolves in 2009.
“We got to test the wolf management plan – it’s got some good things, it’s got some bad things, we all know that,” Moore said.
Another change made by the commission is the definition of “area” where wolves prowl. The agency changed language to define that area as the range that a problem wolf is known to use.
That change didn’t sit well with animal advocates.
Dan Kruse, with Cascadia Wildlands, a nonprofit conservation organization, said that the definition of “in the area” when it comes to chronic livestock kills was too vague.