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Judge issues decision that returns wolves to endangered status in Oregon

August 23, 2010

On August 5, 2010, Judge Malloy issued a decision that undoes the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) latest attempt to delist the gray wolf in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Eastern Oregon and Washington.  The ruling returns wolves to endangered status in Oregon.  Oregon had entered into an agreement with the USFWS before the wolves were delisted concerning how wolves would be managed in Oregon.  Now with the relisting, it is unclear whether that agreement is still in effect.  Also unclear is what protective measures the USFWS will provide to livestock producers with regards to problem wolves in Oregon.

Even before the wolves were relisted by Judge Malloy’s decision, Wildlife Services/USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had indicated that it would not remove problem wolves until at least the end of the year as a result of a suit filed by Hells Canyon Preservation Counsel and other environmental groups. Wildlife Services is the federal agency that responds to depredations by wolves.

The Hells Canyon case sought to enjoin Wildlife Services from removing wolves when requested by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) until Wildlife Services completed an Environmental Assessment.  Wildlife Services agreed to complete an Environmental Assessment and to wait until it had done so to implement ODFW’s request to remove wolves that were in the Imnaha wolf pack – the wolf pack that attacked and killed livestock in Wallowa County earlier this year.  Now that wolves roam free in Oregon, and have killed both sheep and cattle in Oregon, livestock producers are actively seeking input from the federal government as to what tools they have to protect their livestock.

Other states are taking strong positions against Judge Malloy’s ruling, and Idaho has resolved to appeal the decision.  Oregon has voiced no particular position on the ruling.

However, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is in the process of amending Oregon’s Wolf Plan.  A key issue for the Commission is how to respond to wolves that kill, harm, or harass livestock.  Public hearings are scheduled for September 2 and September 30.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact the Dunn Carney attorney with whom you normally consult.

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