Public Comment Period Currently Open on Gray Wolf Damage Management Environmental Assessment
The United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services released a pre-decision Environmental Assessment (“EA”) regarding gray wolf management in Oregon. It evaluates ways Wildlife Services could assist the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (“ODFW”) and Native American tribal governments in managing gray wolf conflicts in Oregon.
The EA outlines direct and indirect effects of wolf depredation on livestock and explains what authorities Wildlife Services would have to assist ODFW in reducing wolf-livestock conflicts. It addresses non-lethal and lethal management efforts.
According to Wildlife Services, protection of livestock is immediately necessary where the gray wolf population is currently present and being managed by ODFW and by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Additional action is needed in these areas because of confirmed and chronic livestock depredation, and the potential for threats to human safety.
After a 60 year absence from Oregon, gray wolves reentered Oregon in 1999, crossing the border from an experimental population in Idaho. Gray wolves in portions of Eastern Oregon are delisted under the federal Endangered Species Act. However, gray wolves remain endangered under Oregon’s state endangered species law. The ability of ODFW to use lethal means to control wolf depredation under the state endangered species laws is the subject of an ongoing legal challenge in the Oregon Court of Appeals.
A public comment period on the EA will close September 10, 2012. Comments should be submitted electronically on the comment form or via mail to State Director, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, 6135 NE 80th Ave., Ste. A-8, Portland, OR 97218.