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Proposed Plan Outlines When Oregon Can Kill a Wolf

A young female wolf, designated OR-54, recovers after being caught and fitted with a tracking collar in 2017.

Wolf populations are increasing in Oregon, which makes a proposed wolf management plan released Monday all the more controversial. In fact, neither conservationists nor cattle owners are entirely happy with the proposal.

Under current regulations, a wolf that commits two depredations — livestock attacks — within any period of time is a "chronic depredator." That’s when state officials could consider killing it.

This draft proposal limits the definition of "chronic" to two attacks within nine months.

Sristi Kamal from Defenders of Wildlife says those guidelines are still too strict.

“Two in nine months of anything cannot be defined as chronic,” Kamal said. “You could take an example from any other sector and you would not define two instances of anything as being chronic, so why is it applicable here?”

Defenders of Wildlife are among a handful of conservation groups that dropped from the wolf management plan discussions in January, in protest. Kamal says her group would like to see the state consider more non-lethal means of managing wolves.

Roger Huffman with the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association says the current proposal isn’t strict enough. He disagreed with the state putting a nine-month cap on when a wolf is considered a chronic depredator. He said there are many more attacks beyond what state officials can confirm.

“For every confirmation, there's between four and eight animals that you don’t know what happened to them,” Huffman said. “So, in other words, there’s more losses.”

Derek Broman with Oregon Fish and Wildlife says just because the state could consider killing a wolf that’s been deemed a chronic depredator doesn’t mean it has to.

“There's still the flexibility granted to the state agency to make those decisions,” Broman said. “Nothing says once that threshold is met, we have to respond in a certain way.”

Right now that threshold only applies to Eastern Oregon, because it’s the only region in Oregon with a significant number of wolf packs.

The public has until June 7 to review and comment on the draft proposal.

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Prior to joining OPB, she was a news host and regional reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.