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Oregon Rule Change Expands Livestock Producers' Rights To Kill Wolves


After a lawsuit settlement and change in Oregon law, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife eased the rules for livestock producers to use lethal control over wolves.

After a lawsuit settlement and change in Oregon law, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife eased the rules for livestock producers to use lethal control over wolves.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

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If you’re a rancher, you used to need a permit to kill a wolf in all circumstances, even if it was attacking your livestock.

Now, after a rule change by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, you don’t — at least in in some cases. You can now kill a wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock without a permit if:

  • The wolf is in area of Oregon where it is not federally listed (East of highways 395-78-95).
  • The wolf is on land owned or lawfully occupied by livestock producer.
  • No bait or other intentional attractants are present.
  • Any take of a wolf is reported to ODFW within 24 hours. The scene must be preserved and the carcass not removed.
  • A livestock producer can allow an agent to take a wolf if written authorization procedures are followed.

You can also kill a wolf that’s chasing livestock, without needing a permit, if you can check off everything on the list above as well as the following:

  • The wolf or pack has four livestock depredations in the past six months
  • The livestock producer has tried non-lethal action.

The new rules follow a legal settlement after Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity sued the state in October of 2011 over the its lethal control of wolves. Two of the groups agreed to settle, ODFW wolf coordinator Russ Morgan said, but Center for Biological Diversity did not.

After the lawsuit sat dormant for months, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association began pushing for legislation to increase the state’s ability to control wolves in regions where they are not federally listed. When that legislation passed, it essentially made the lawsuit moot, Morgan said.

The ability to kill wolves over chronic livestock depredation was actually something ODFW wanted in its original wolf plan back in 2005, Morgan said, but state law didn’t allow it.

“Frankly there’s just places where lethal control is necessary,” Morgan said. “It’s unfortunate but it’s sort of a reality about wolves.”

Morgan also said Oregon is still unique in that it requires non-lethal measures to be taken and several criteria to be met before it can kill a wolf. In many states, that decision is left up to the discretion of the agency, he said.

Tony Schick