Federal lawmakers agreed to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the eastern portions of Oregon and Washington, north-central Utah, and the entire states of Montana and Idaho late last week. The delisting proposal survived federal budget negotiations and is on track for final approval.
The federal budget bill would turn back the clock and restore the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2009 delisting for the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf population. That means Wyoming’s wolves would still remain protected until the feds approved the state’s wolf management plan. But Oregon’s wolves would once again be managed under the state plan.
All this raises the stakes for the wolf bills in the Oregon legislature. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association has proposed several changes to the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management plan that would allow people to kill wolves if they’re within 500 yards of a residence or if they’re chasing or harassing livestock. Those bills are up for debate in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and may be scheduled for a work session this week (see the highlights from the wolf bills hearing late last month).