Voice your support for wolves! ODFW needs to hear from you!

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Wolf pups in the Wenaha pack. Photo by ODFW.

Dear Friends,

Please speak up for wolves! The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is in the process of revising the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The commission needs to hear loud and clear that Oregonians support strong protections for wolves. Please testify at one of the public meetings or submit comments to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on behalf of wolves.

There are two upcoming opportunities for the Fish and Wildlife Commission to hear public testimony on the plan revisions:

  • December 2nd, 2016 in Salem, Oregon; details on time and location to follow.

Public testimony during the hearing will likely be limited to two to three minutes. Be sure to narrow down your main points, and practice before the hearing. We’ve included talking point ideas below.

If you cannot attend either of the public hearings, please take a few minutes to write the commission and let them know that you support wolf recovery. You can email comments to the commission at: odfw.commission@state.or.us. Even brief comments are important. If you love wolves, now is the time to speak on their behalf!

  • Urge ODFW to carry forward the parts of the Wolf Plan that worked to reduce conflict and recover wolves. Non-lethal controls are effective, and should be an integral part of the Wolf Plan. We ask that ODFW focus on transparency, clear defensible definitions, and enforceable standards to prevent conflict. Research shows that killing wolves is not an effective strategy for reducing livestock depredations (1), nor does it increase social acceptance of wolves (2).
  • Stronger protections are needed to ensure wolf recovery. Wolves are still too limited in numbers and in distribution to be considered “recovered”, or to maintain sustained populations. We are concerned that shrinking populations in neighboring states, combined with recent delisting in Oregon will not ensure sufficient genetic diversity or connectivity. Particularly in light of threats from poaching and other sources of mortality, our small wolf population continues to be in jeopardy of extinction.
  • Strong protections are needed to ensure public acceptance of wolves. In areas where killing wolves is legally acceptable, public support of wolves may decrease (2). State-sanctioned killing of wolves actually increases controversy and discontent about wolf presence. We are opposed to killing wolves, especially on public lands.
  • Killing wolves harms wolf pack structure, which may cause young, inexperienced, or immigrating wolves to be more likely to prey on livestock. In addition, the pack may dissolve, or reproduction can be negatively affected- potentially jeopardizing recovery in a population with very few breeding pairs (3).
  • Public hunting of wolves is unacceptable. Some private interests see killing wolves as the solution to problems, and are calling for a weak wolf plan that makes killing wolves easier. Oregon should learn from its own past and from other states. Killing wolves does not resolve conflict, and research has shown that other wolves or coyotes will fill that niche, as long as there is a food source present. Tell ODFW to reject the hunting of wolves.
  • We urge ODFW to include stronger conservation values in the Wolf Plan. We ask ODFW to place increased value on wolves for their important ecological roles. Wolves should not be killed for the benefit of private interests, especially on public lands. The State is responsible for protecting wolves in the public trust, for all Oregonians. Wolf conservation is important for all citizens, and should not treated as an issue limited to private or local business interests. We also ask the ODFW to refrain from using wolves as political bargaining chips to mediate political and economic conflicts. ODFW went forward with the recent delisting of wolves, despite overwhelming public outcry, and contrary to scientific opinion. We hope that ODFW acts in the listens to the public, and includes stronger protections for wolves in the revised plan.
  • Oregonians have been clear in their overwhelming support of wolves, and want strong protections in order to ensure wolf recovery.The public favors wolf recovery. Public polls show that over 2/3 of Oregon citizens support wolf recovery. This is also true of public polls in Washington and California, and nationally. In addition, public support of the Endangered Species Act continues to remain strong (4, 5, 6). State and federal agencies are obliged to uphold the law, act in the public trust, and preserve natural resources, including wolves, for current and future generations.
  • Wolves fill vital roles in ecosystems. Wolves prevent damage to streams and riparian habitats from ungulates, and so play a critical role in the restoration of these areas. This, in turn, helps to support healthy populations of fish, birds, and riparian vegetation. Wolves can release rodent populations from coyote pressure, which in turn sustains healthier populations of certain birds of prey (7). Studies have also shown that the presence of wolves contributes to healthier soils (8), and may buffer the negative effects of climate change on ecosystems (9).
  • Non-lethal works! The Wood River Project in Idaho, run by Defenders of Wildlife is an example of successful coexistence of livestock and wolves. The Wood River Project has been going strong for eight years, and uses non-lethal management to protect more than 25,000 sheep that graze annually on the Sawtooth National Forest. It has one of the highest concentrations of wolves and livestock sharing the same landscape, yet the project area has the lowest rate of loss due to wolf depredations across the state. The Wood River program has been so successful that Blaine County, where the project is located, unanimously passed a resolution in 2014 requesting that the state use non-lethal tools over lethal tools. (10, 11, 12, 13) On the other hand, where killing wolves in response to depredations has been emphasized, depredations have gone up. These results are consistent with the 2014 Wielgus study showing that killing wolves in response to livestock depredations actually causes more depredations (14).
  • Good-sense economic strategy favors strong ecological protections, and strong protections for wolves. Oregon’s natural landscapes are one of its most valuable economic assets. Oregonians receive tremendous economic gains from clean water, livability, outdoor recreation activities, tourism, and other resources associated with our breathtaking natural heritage. Wolves indirectly and directly contribute to these economic gains (15).
  • The Wolf Plan must prioritize wolf conservation, as promised by ODFW and the commission.

Please speak up for wolves– let ODFW know that you support strong protections for wolves.

For the Wild,

Paula Hood, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project

Footnotes/references:

  1. Treves, A.; Krofel, M.; McManus, J.; 2016. Predator control should not be a shot in the dark. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14: 380-388.
  2. Treves, A. 2009. Hunting for large carnivore conservation.Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 1350-1356.
  3. Borg, B.; Brainerd, S.; Meier, T.; Prugh, L.; 2014. Impacts of breeder loss on social structure, reproduction and population growth in a social canid. Journal of Animal Ecology 2014 doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12256
  4. Defenders of Wildlife, 2013. Polls show strong support for wolf recovery in the Pacific Northwest. http://www.defenders.org/press-release/poll-shows-strong-support-wolf-recovery-pacific-northwest
  5. Tulchin Research, 2013. RE: Polls show strong support for wolf recovery in Western States. http://www.defenders.org/sites/default/files/publications/defenders-of-wildlife-public-memo-new-poll-finds-strong-support-for-wolf-protection-in-western-states.pdf
  6. Harris Interactive, 2011. Endangered Species Act summary- Poll for Endangered Species Act public support. http://www.defenders.org/publications/endangered_species_act_poll.pdf
  7. Ripple, W.; Beschta, R.; 2011. Trophic Cascades in Yellowstone: the First 15 Years After Wolf Reintroductionhttp://www.cof.orst.edu/leopold/papers/RippleBeschtaYellowstone_BioConserv.pdf
  8. Bump, J.; Peterson, R.; Vucetich, J., 2009. Wolves modulate soil nutrient heterogeneity and foliar nitrogen by configuring the distribution of ungulate carcasses. Ecology, 90(11), 2009, pp. 3159–3167.
  9. Wilmers CC, Getz WM (2005) Gray Wolves as Climate Change Buffers in Yellowstone. PLoS Biol 3(4): e92. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030092.
  10. Defenders of Wildlife, 2014. Living with Wildlife: Coexisting with Wolves in Idaho’s Wood River Valley. http://www.defenders.org/living-wildlife/gray-wolves?_ga=1.220162841.1084860869.1412731542
  11. Defenders of Wildlife, 2014. Wolves Among the Sheep. http://www.defendersblog.org/2012/10/wolves-among-the-sheep/
  12. City of Ketchum, Idaho. Recommendation To Adopt Resolution 14-022 in Support of Wildlife Co-Existence and Recognizing The Wood River Wolf Projecthttp://ketchumidaho.org/DocumentCenter/View/2251
  13. KTVB.com, Idaho News and Weather, 2014. Conservationists use non-lethal methods to deal with wolves. http://www.ktvb.com/story/local/2014/10/07/12686175/
  14. Wielgus, R. and Peebles, K. 2014. Effects of Wolf Mortality on Livestock Depredations. PLoS ONE 9(12): e113505. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.
  15. Treves, A., Naughton-Treves, L. & Shelley, V. 2013. Longitudinal analysis of attitudes toward wolves. Conserv. Biol. 27, 315-323.

 

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