Grey wolves were protected as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act in June 2014, a year before the Shasta Pack was found. They already were protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. After the discovery of the Shasta Pack last summer, the state developed a Draft Conservation Plan for Grey Wolf Management that was released in December 2015 — just as OR-25 was wandering into the state.
Although the plan has not been officially adopted yet, the CFBD commented that the draft generally provided good protections but argued that setting a threshold of 50-75 wolves as the point when protections are removed, allowing wolves to be killed legally, was too low.
“We support the plan's initial emphasis on conservation and management of wolves using nonlethal tools and strategies, but we’re quite concerned about how quickly the plan would allow wolves to be killed,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Science shows that nonlethal deterrence methods are more effective at protecting livestock than killing wolves. We’d like to see the state stick with these proven methods.” [snip]
The plan proposes a phased management approach, where after establishment of five wolf packs the state will consider more aggressive management to respond to conflicts. After establishment of nine packs, consisting of just 50 to 75 wolves, the state will seek to remove endangered species protections. The plan fails to explain why such a small, fragile population should have protections removed, simply citing other states that adopted similar approaches.
(See link at the end of article to submit a public comment on the Draft Plan.)
The first wolf to re-enter California, OR-7, crossed into the state in 2011 and then returned to southwest Oregon, found a mate and together they formed the Rogue Pack (dark blue polygon in the bottom left of the map). The couple had litters of pups in 2014 and 2015 as reported by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Ten packs roam in Oregon and information on them is updated by ODFW. At the end of 2009, there were a total of two packs and 14 wolves known in Oregon. By the end of 2014, ten packs and five pairs of wolves were documented with a total of 81 wolves. Packs are defined as a breeding pair with at least two pups surviving until the end of the census year. Wolves designated as “pairs” do not yet have pups, or none survived the first year. Current wolf territories in Oregon are in the northeastern portion of the state and the far southwestern.
In November 2015, Oregon delisted grey wolves from the state’s Endangered Species List, a decision that some view as controversial and hasty. Delisting doesn’t mean the wolves lack protection, however, and they may not be hunted or trapped.
Earlier this week, ODFW filed rules with the Oregon Secretary of State that removed wolves from the state Endangered Species List in keeping with the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision on Monday, Nov. 9.
The Commission’s decision changed the wolf’s ESA status but it has no other immediate effect on wolf management in Oregon. Wolves are still protected by the Wolf Plan and its associated rules.
Any take of wolves is highly regulated in Oregon and the delisting does not mean additional take is now allowed. Hunters and trappers may not take wolves in Oregon at this time. The Wolf Plan does not allow for general season sport hunting of wolves in any phase of wolf management.
The delisting also does not change the current management of wolf-livestock conflict. In all phases of the Wolf Plan, non-lethal preventive measures are the tools of choice to address wolf-livestock conflict.
The grey wolf (Canis lupus) was extirpated in California by the mid-1920’s, partly due to ranchers view of the wolves as threats to livestock. But suitable habitat and their preferred wild ungulate prey of elk and deer still exist in the state, although there is concern that the native elk populations are too fragmented and have too few individuals to withstand significant predation. Three general areas are cited in CDFW’s Draft Conservation Plan as most likely to provide habitat sufficient to support wolf populations: 1) the Klamath Mountains and portions of the Northern California Coast Ranges (northwestern CA); 2) the southern Cascades and portions of the Modoc Plateau and Warner Mountains (northcentral and northeastern CA); and 3) the Sierra Nevada. The Shasta Pack currently lives in the second area (southern Cascades). The newest wolf to enter the state, OR-25, is also in this general area but further east and north on the Modoc Plateau.
Since the last wolves in California were killed in the 1920’s, strategies to minimize livestock-wolf interactions have been developed and means of compensating ranchers for losses due to wolf predation on livestock have improved. These are discussed in the Draft Conservation Plan along with other means of integrating the new wolf populations into the landscape of the state and of promoting acceptance of the wolves by ranchers and the general public. CDFW is taking written comments on the draft and will hold three public meetings in late January and early February in Yreka, Sacramento and Long Beach prior to issuing the final plan.
You can submit your comments on cdfw’s draft wolf conservation plan to cdfw using this form from the center for biological diversity. a sample comment is provided but you can modify it if you wish.
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