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Oregonians voice varied reactions to federal decision to delist gray wolves

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Gray wolves are no longer an endangered species in the United States. The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that decision Thursday, and there was, as expected, a split reaction in Oregon and elsewhere on the long-controversial topic.

Agency officials said the nation's gray wolf population stands at around 6,000 and has a a stable and healthy range. Mexican gray wolves and red wolves are still considered endangered.

Conservation groups said they plan to file lawsuits, stating the decision to delist gray wolves is too early.

One of the groups doing so is the Eugene-based Western Environmental Law Center.

John Mellgren, an attorney with the group, said, "The federal government has basically said there's are enough wolves in the Great Lakes states to suffice for the rest of the country, so it really doesn't matter what's going on in Oregon, Washington or California.."

"And we just think that's wrong," he said. "You have to look at everywhere wolves occur in this country."

Mellgren said wolf populations are not back to their optimum number in areas such as Oregon.

"The science just doesn't say that wolves are recovered in Washington, Oregon, California," he said. "Wolves are still recovering."

On the contrary, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said supports the delisting decision, stating that Oregon's wolf population grew over 15% last year.

The congressman said they've killed livestock, leaving ranchers helpless when it's in areas under federal management.

An official with the Oregon Cattlemen's Association is also applauding the move.

Rodger Huffman , a Union County rancher and the organization's treasurer, gave examples to NewsChannel 21 of ranchers losing livestock to wolves.

"One producer lost so many animals that he had to put a $40,000 electric fence up, with help from all the environmental groups," Huffman said.

He said this move will help the state expand its progressive approach to dealing with wolves, where ranchers can take lethal action now east of Highway 97, if a rancher catches a wolf in the act of killing livestock.

"If you don't do something, they teach the pups that hey, that's their food source," Huffman said. "Then the pups disperse when they get to be a year or two old."

However, he added, the association does not support the complete eradication of the species.

Central Oregon / Environment / Government-politics / Top Stories
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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.



    1. your post displays prominently that you know nothing about deer/elk population health, and that you are ok with your guy shredding everything he can in our country on his way out the door – the damage of the cult will haunt us for a long time to come

      1. No TioZo, you have Zero idea of what the wolf can, and is doing to deer, and elk populations, the fact is that it is so bad in places like Idaho, that they have decimated the populations in some areas to such a degree, that the competing wolf packs are now eating each other, I have seen it first hand just two weeks ago near McCall Idaho. Mabey, it is something you, and John Mellgren would like to go watch for yourselves, or just wait, in a few short years, we can just see it here in Oregon.

  1. No matter the “renegotiated” acceptable number of critters, the eco-freak faction will always sue to have more. If these where native animals it would be a different story.

      1. Not this breed of wolf, the wolves that were native to Oregon, and the pacific NW were not much bigger than a coyote, these wolves are much bigger, and more aggressive than the native wolves,
        these are nothing more than a introduced, invasive species.

          1. I did some research, and the only species that’s of wolf that’s lived in Oregon for ages is Canis lupus, the Gray Wolf.

            But the subspecies C. l. occidentalis (northwestern wolf) hasn’t been in Oregon, historically. And that’s the one that’s migrating into Oregon now.

            In Oregon, we had C. l. fuscus. That did run a little smaller than the northwestern wolf, by about 25 lbs.

            So why not reintroduce C. l. fuscus? Answer: we killed every single one of them by 1945.

            Why are we reintroducing C. l. occidentalis to Oregon instead? Answer: we’re not. They’re walking here on their own. We haven’t killed all of them yet, it seems. Give it time, and I have faith we’ll rob our grandchildren of the sight.

            1. Rob our Grandchildren of the sight? Doubt if they will get out enough to see the native species let alone the “migratory” ones, unless it is the Apple eaters around all towns.

              1. If you’ll read what I wrote, you’ll note that the native species was killed to extinction. No amount of “getting out” without a time machine will get you a glimpse.

  2. Split reaction – those who live in the municipalities and only see them on tv are against this while those who live and work amongst them are all for this. Wonder if we could train them to move into town like we have the deer.

    1. Don’t be so sure. 538 gives him an 11% chance of winning, which is not that far-fetched. Better odds than flipping 4 heads in a row, which you could do without much effort.

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