Wolves are no longer endangered in Oregon, biologists that recommended the removal of the animals from the state’s Endangered Species list said. The move, which is expected to be voted upon next month, however, triggered a strong backlash from conservationist groups and the public.
Critics claim that the decision is premature. But the panel of the wildlife biologists replied Friday that there is ‘hard data’ to back the proposal. Although the animals would be delisted they would still keep some partial protections.
Michelle Dennehy, the head of the commission that proposed the delisting, said that gray wolf habitat in the state is now stable, populations rebounded, and there are large swaths of land covered with wolves in Oregon.
The state commission is expected to vote Nov. 9 on delisting the wild animal. But conservationists are upset with the decision. Steve Pedery, head of the Oregon Wild Conservation group, told reporters that Oregon residents also support keeping wolves on the list.
He added that conservation groups and thousands of people urged the commission to keep wolves on the Endangered Species list because the population is still ‘tiny’ compared to their historic proportions. Additionally, the animals are still threatened and scientific community confirms.
Gray wolves are native to the state but they underwent a mass extinction last century when authorities ordered a national eradication campaign. The first wolf to be born the state was spotted seven years ago. Since then , wolf population in the state rebounded to 80 specimens and 15 packs.
The commission reassured conservationists and the public alike that wolves would still be granted protections after the delisting including prohibiting a general season hunting across the state.
“There’s still a lot of protection for wolves going forward,”
But conservationists cited worries of the scientific community which has doubts on the validity of arguments chosen for recommending the delisting. Michael Nelson, a professor at Oregon State University, pointed out that regulators’ arguments defy logic since they try to delist some animals that are missing from 90 percent of their historic range.
Wolves tried to make a comeback in northeast Oregon in the 90s. They came from Idaho were they were reintroduced by the wildlife federal agency in 1995. First wolves were born in Oregon in 2008.
In just one year population grew to 14, and in two years’ time it hit 29. But wolves first appeared in the western parts of the state in 2011 when a male wolf dubbed OR7 traveled more than 1,200 miles to the Cascade Range.
Image Source: Phombo