State Officials At Odds Over Gray Wolf Endangered Status

On Wednesday, May 15, reporting revealed that Curtis Melcher, director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stating Oregon’s support for removing gray wolves from the federal endangered species list.  

Quick public condemnation from conservation groups and U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D) led to Governor Kate Brown sending her own letter to U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, saying that the state of Oregon and its agencies do not support delisting the gray wolf in the lower 48 states. Oregon itself removed the wolves from its state endangered species in 2015. 

Some believe that the wolves’ population, now topping 150 in Oregon, is healthy enough that federal conservation efforts are no longer necessary. Others believe that the removal of those restrictions will lead to the same behaviors that caused the endangerment crisis in the first place. 

The state is currently in the middle of developing a wolf management plan, which is up for a vote at the state Fish and Wildlife Commission in June. 

By Ian MacRonald