PORTLAND - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that gray wolves will be reclassified throughout the west from "endangered" to "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act due to successful recovery efforts in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
Despite the federal government's reclassification of gray wolves to the "threatened" designation, the species remains listed as "endangered" under Oregon law.
The Oregon Endangered Species Act bans the killing of wolves in the state, even if they are in the act of killing livestock. However, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has authority to adopt rules aligned with the federal reclassification to grant "damage take" permits to livestock owners, if the rules are consistent with conserving the species in Oregon.
"Now that wolves have finally been down-listed, we need to determine exactly how the federal rules mesh with state rules and what actions the commission can take to ensure consistency and avoid unnecessary confusion," said Ron Anglin, Wildlife Division Administrator for ODFW.
Oregon statutes state that down-listing and de-listing a species requires a public rulemaking process by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, complete with full public notice, public hearing and opportunity to submit comments. The law requires the commission to base down-listing or de-listing decisions on scientific criteria related to the wolves' status in Oregon.
No wild wolves are confirmed to live in Oregon at this time. While Oregon has no intention of actively reintroducing wolves, biologists are faced with managing wolves that cross the border from Idaho into Oregon.
The commission was scheduled to discuss wolf management for Oregon on Thursday at its meeting in Newport.