Feb. 24–Wolves in Oregon continued to recover last year, bringing the number of known wolves in the state to 77.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Tuesday released numbers from its annual wolf count, conducted at the end of each year. At last count, in early 2014, there were 64 wolves in Oregon. The number has been climbing yearly since the apex predators crossed into Oregon from Northeastern Idaho in the mid-2000s.
Last year’s growth rate was slower than in 2014, spurring Oregon Wild conservation director Steve Pedery to argue that while the continued signs of wolf recovery are encouraging, “the population remains fragile.”
Oregon’s continued wolf recovery opens up new questions about whether existing protections for the animals should continue. Gray wolves are listed under the state’s Endangered Species Act. ODFW announced last month that there are now eight breeding pairs in the state — enough to trigger a review of their endangered status.
In the coming months, ODFW wildlife biologist will conduct a “status review” detailing how wolves are faring. They’ll present their findings to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, which will have final say over whether to remove wolves from the list.
Pedery contends their answer should be no.
“You’ll struggle to find a credible scientist willing to say a couple dozen wolves in the northeast corner of the state is a real recovery,” he said. “ODFW must resist giving in to political pressure, declare mission accomplished, and turn their back on important protections for wolves that have gotten this far.”
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, however, advocates for a delisting. The organization’s leadership argues wolves pose a danger to their livestock, and protections that prevent ranchers from taking lethal action against wolves except in specific circumstances should be removed.
Additional stats from Tuesday’s wolf count:
–9 wolf packs statewide
–8 packs with breeding pairs
–26 pups survived through the end of 2014
–6 new pairs of wolves compared to 2013
–11 confirmed incidents of wolves killing livestock, down from 13 in 2013
–$150,830 awarded in eight counties to help ranchers prevent wolf depredation and to repay ranchers whose cattle were killed