ODFW Releases Third Edition Of Draft Wolf Management Plan, Commission To Vote June 7

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released its draft proposed Wolf Conservation and Management Plan Monday at www.odfw.com/wolves

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to vote on the plan at its June 7 meeting in Salem.

Once adopted, the plan will be the third edition of the wolf plan, which was first adopted in 2005 after an extensive public process and revised in 2010.

The proposed draft plan was written by ODFW staff but involved extensive meetings with stakeholders and public comment at several prior Commission meetings. In 2018, the Commission also directed ODFW staff to host facilitated meetings with stakeholders to seek consensus on unresolved issues.

“The draft Plan incorporates ideas where consensus was reached, but agreement was not possible on all topics,” said ODFW in a press release.

See a report on the facilitated meetings’ outcomes here https://www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/WPSR.asp

“Wolf management is a polarizing topic with strong views on all sides, so it’s tough to find consensus,” says Derek Broman, ODFW carnivore and furbearer program coordinator. “But regardless of people’s views on wolves, the wolf population in Oregon is growing in size, number of packs and packs reproducing, while expanding its range.”

Defining chronic depredation that might lead to lethal control of wolves and hunting of wolves are some of the most contentious issues.

ODFW staff previously proposed the definition of chronic depredation be three confirmed depredations in a 12-month period in Phase 2 and 3, a change from the current definition (two confirmed depredations in an unlimited timeframe).

The draft plan now proposes two confirmed depredations in nine months in Phases 2 and 3 (so the only change from the current definition is a 9-month time restriction).

Like the original plan, the draft plan would allow controlled take only in Phase 3 (currently eastern Oregon) in instances of recurring depredations or when wolves are a major cause of ungulate populations not meeting established management objectives or herd management goals.

ODFW is not proposing any controlled take of wolves at this time but believes regulated hunting and trapping needs to remain a tool available for wolf management. Any proposal for controlled take of wolves would require Commission approval through a separate planning and hunt development process. 

Other major topics addressed in Plan include:

— Wolf-livestock conflict, including an expanded section on the latest non-lethal tools and techniques for reducing conflict.

— Wolf interactions with native ungulate populations, including annual ungulate population estimates before and after wolf establishment. Elk, wolves’ primary prey, have increased in some units with wolves and decreased in others. However, interpretation of the impact of wolf predation on elk is confounded by management efforts to reduce elk numbers in units where they are over management objective or to minimize conflicts with elk on private land. Mule deer have been below desired levels for more than two decades, before wolves’ returned to Oregon, with changing land management strategies, invasive weeds, and recent severe weather among the main reasons for their decline.

— Wolf population monitoring and potential conservation threats.

— Strategies to address wolf-human interactions.

Public testimony on the draft plan will be taken during the June 7 meeting and can also be sent to [email protected]

Also see:

— CBB, April 8, 2019, “Oregon Wolf Report: Documents Minimum Count Of 137 Wolves, 16 Packs” https://www.www.www.cbbulletin.com/442420.aspx

More news from CBB: