Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oregon wolves removed from state endangered species list

The gray wolf has lost its place on the Oregon endangered species list. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Monday voted to remove the animal from the list in a move that changes little about current wolf management but opens up the possibility for a controlled wolf hunt in the future. In a 4-2 vote following a marathon daylong meeting, commissioners signaled agreement with a staff recommendation to remove endangered species act protections for all of Oregon's 81 known gray wolves. Several commissioners said they would have preferred to remove the animals from the list only in Eastern Oregon, where most of them reside. However, state statute only makes room for statewide endangered species decisions. Commissioners directed Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to work with lawmakers to consider a bill to change that statute. They also directed staff to work on a proposal to increase the legal penalty for killing a wolf. Currently, the maximum penalty for doing so is up to a year in jail and a $6,250 fine. "Everyone on this panel cares about the wolf," commission Chairman Michael Finley said of Monday's decision. "I think you can see by asking for increased penalties and our statement about the future regulations that we mean that." Activists said they are likely to sue over the decision on the grounds that the science behind it didn't undergo an adequate peer review. The animals reached a population milestone this year -- four breeding pairs for the third straight year -- that triggered a state process to consider removing them from the list...more

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