Lawsuit Filed to Stop Federal, State-Sanctioned Killing of Endangered Wolves

For Immediate Release

Conservation Groups
Contact: 

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Greg Dyson, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, (541) 963-3950 x 22
Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 x 210

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Federal, State-Sanctioned Killing of Endangered Wolves

PORTLAND, Ore. - Four conservation groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
predator control branch, Wildlife Services, today for its role in
killing wolves at the behest of the Oregon Department of
Fish and Wildlife. The state has issued, and now extended, a permit to
Aug. 31 to the federal agency to hunt, track and kill two wolves across
a 70-square-mile area in eastern Oregon. According to the conservation
groups' lawsuit, Wildlife Services never conducted the environmental
analysis required to disclose the impacts of killing a substantial
portion of Oregon's wolves. Cascadia Wildlands, Hells Canyon
Preservation Council, Oregon Wild and the national Center for
Biological Diversity brought the suit, and are also strongly
considering suing the state for its role in authorizing the kill
permits.

"Oregon is big enough for people and wolves," said Greg
Dyson with the La Grande-based group Hells Canyon Preservation Council.
"ODFW is acting too hastily in giving Wildlife Services authority to
shoot these wolves before exhausting other management options. We were
left with no choice but to protect wolves in court."

The kill order stems from recent livestock depredations
by wolves in Wallowa County. In May and early June, six cattle deaths
were confirmed as wolf depredations. For comparison, in 2005 - the year
the wolf plan was created - domestic dogs killed 700 sheep and
cows in Oregon, according to the National Agricultural Statistics
Service. No new wolf depredations on livestock have occurred since June
4.

"Sixty years ago, we completed a sad chapter in our
history by killing the last wolf in Oregon," added Josh Laughlin of
Cascadia Wildlands. "Today, we're fighting in court to ensure that we
do not repeat that history."

According to the groups, Oregon's wildlife agency is
violating the wolf-management plan by issuing the kill permits when
damage is not presently occurring, the wolves are not on the land where
damage is occurring, and multiple carcass dump piles were left on
ranch lands resulting in "unreasonable circumstances" that attract
wolves to the area. Had Wildlife Services conducted the proper
environmental analysis, the agency would have realized that wolves pose
no current depredation threat and killing them is inappropriate. The
state's wildlife department has also failed to document how efforts by
ranchers to avoid depredations through nonlethal means were "deemed
ineffective" or to document unsuccessful attempts to solve the
situation through nonlethal means - both of which are requirements of
the plan.

"Oregon's struggling wolf population cannot sustain
these killings," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program
director at the Center for Biological Diversity.  "Issuance of permits
to kill these two wolves by the state of Oregon is exactly why wolves
continue to need protection under the federal Endangered Species Act."

A decision is expected soon in a separate lawsuit
brought by a large coalition of conservation groups - including all the
groups involved in today's suit - seeking to restore federal
protections to wolves under the Endangered Species Act. If protections
are restored, the permits may be invalidated.   

To date, Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office has had little to
say about the actions of his state's wildlife agency. The governor's
Natural Resources Policy Director, Mike Carrier, stated publicly that
the governor cannot respond to requests to remove the kill order.

"Is this what Governor Kulongoski wants his wildlife
legacy to be?" asked Rob Klavins with Oregon Wild. "The governor who
signed off on the first state-sanctioned illegal wolf kills in the
state's history?"

Oregon is currently home to a confirmed population of 14
wolves in two packs, both in northeast Oregon. The Imnaha pack of 10
is led by wolf B-300. Another pack of four wolves located in the Wenaha
wildlife unit was caught on film for the first time earlier this
spring. The Oregon wolf plan is currently undergoing a mandated
five-year review process. Since the current population numbers fewer
than 14 confirmed wolves, conservationists are working to fully fund the
wolf plan and empower biologists to make decisions regarding the
state-listed endangered species.

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