Comment by Sept. 11 on state's wolf plan
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By MIKE FERGUSON
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is beginning an environmental review of the state's request for a federal permit to manage gray wolves in Oregon.
Wolves are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act as an endangered species. The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments on the permit application and the environmental review through Sept. 11.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a Wolf Conservation and Management Plan in December 2005. Oregon officials requested the permit, known as a recovery permit, because some of the actions the state may take under its plan could harm or kill these problem wolves, which would be a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The goal of Oregon's plan is to promote wolf recovery objectives and enhance the survival of wolves in the wild. Chronic wolf-livestock conflicts are detrimental to the long-term survival of gray wolves because relying on livestock for food keeps the wolves from hunting their natural prey.
Those conflicts are also a problem for livestock owners.
Potential depredation under the management plan was a common theme among Baker County ranchers, some of whom testified against the wolf management plan during hearings in Salem.
Baker County Livestock Association president Mike Colton and others organized to fight the adoption of the plan, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
Oregon's wolf plan, available at www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves, provides guidelines for responses to situations that may arise as gray wolves migrate into Oregon from adjacent states. The plan also outlines specific criteria that must be met to delist wolves from Oregon's' Endangered Species Act.
Under the plan, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife proposes to conduct non-lethal actions to reduce or resolve wolf-livestock conflicts and human safety concerns. If non-lethal efforts are unsuccessful and livestock depredations continue, ODFW requests authorization to conduct lethal controls of wolves. No lethal measures by private landowners would be authorized by this permit.
Currently, ODFW is authorized through a cooperative agreement known as a Section 6 permit to conduct non-lethal gray wolf management actions in Oregon. These actions include trapping, collaring, taking blood and hair samples, harassing and other actions that are not reasonable expected to result in the death or permanent disabling of a wolf.
The 30-day comment period for the permit application and environmental review must be received by Sept. 11. Written data or comments should be submitted to the Chief of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 911 NE 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97232-4181. Comments may be faxed to 503/231-6243. Please refer to the ODFW Wolf Permit when submitting comments.
All comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the official administrative record and may be made available to the public.
The state's application is available at www.fws.gov/pacific/ecoserve/endangered/recovery/default.htm.
Additional information about wolf recovery and conservation in the northwestern United States, including control of problem wolves, can be found in various reports at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/.