What timing. Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar just announced the official delisting of the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves will happen tomorrow. We knew this was coming, but we didn’t know it was going to come right in the middle of a plan to kill two wolves in eastern Oregon.
Will the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have time to kill two juvenile wolves from the Imnaha pack before then? Or will the lawsuit filed yesterday stop the effort before it begins?
Unfortunately, the regional folks at the Service can’t answer those questions right now.
There is another interesting piece of information that came out of today’s conference call. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is launching a “status review” of wolves in the Pacific Northwest. That’s one of the first steps toward putting a species on the protected list. So, as wolves in the eastern portions of Oregon and Washington are coming OFF the endangered list, the feds are considering putting wolves in the rest of the Pacific Northwest ON the endangered list.
Does that mean one day we could see the state managing wolves in eastern Oregon while the feds are protecting wolves in the rest of the state?
That’s right, said Jasmine Minbashian of Conservation Northwest. Washington already has confirmed wolves in the Cascades, and Oregon has some “credible” but unconfirmed sightings. The Fish and Wildlife Service could define a new wolf population segment in the Cascade Range and list that population for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
“We’re happy they’re taking this step because it could mean a more concerted effort to help recovery wolves in the Northwest,” Minbashian said. “There’s been a lot of tension in the Rockies. Meanwhile, in the Northwest and especially the Cascades we have wolves coming back.”
One of the reasons Minbashian is hoping to see Cascade Range wolves protected is to reduce wolf poaching. The penalties for killing an endangered species are steep and could deter people from killing the wolves already living in the Cascades.
More to come on this. Stay tuned.