February 7, 2012. Salem, Oregon – The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association released the following statement regarding HB 4158:
“In 2005, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan—a consensus-driven plan that is based on the best available science for wolf conservation. In order to develop healthy wolf populations, conservation science counsels strongly against maintaining a wolf pack that chronically depredates on livestock. Thus, one of the key, science-based tenants of the Wolf Plan was that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would have the authority to remove problem wolves. The authority for this rule, as understood by the groups involved in the development of the wolf management plan, was long thought to derive from the general wildlife statutes. The Oregon Court of Appeals recently indicated that Oregon law may not provide such authority, after a lawsuit was filed by Cascadia Wild, Oregon Wild and the Center for Biological Diversity. HB 4158 provides clarification of this issue.
HB 4158 will restore the Department’s authority to what the parties who supported and found consensus in the Wolf Plan–including conservation groups, state agencies, legislators and industry representatives—believed existed and relied upon for over six years. Authority for science-based wolf management will be restored to on-the ground authority working in the best interests of both wildlife and livestock.
In November 2011, the Court of Appeals stopped the Department from taking any further action to remove problem wolves after a lawsuit was filed. Chronic depredation has continued in spite of non-lethal methods taken by ranchers to distract these predators. Seven deaths have been confirmed as wolf kills, with many more deaths in the area of the Imnaha Wolf Pack.
The Court of Appeals case has not concluded. It’s ruling was part of a preliminary process. It is expected that this process will take many months to resolve in the courts. Prolonged litigation comes at a high cost to Oregon taxpayers on a variety of different fronts.
HB 4158 will rectify this issue of clarification and allow the Department to return to science-based management under the Wolf Plan.”