Curry Coastal Pilot

SALEM — Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) released its draft proposed Wolf Conservation and Management Plan Monday.

The document can be found at www.odfw.com/wolves.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to vote on the plan at its June 7 meeting in Salem.

The ODFW Wolf Program recently reported a “probable” wolf attack of sheep in Curry County. The kills — reported between Feb. 23 and March 4 — occurred in a partially fenced pasture in a northeastern area of the county, according to the ODFW report.

ODFW Communications Coordinator Michelle Dennehy said evidence was not conclusive, so ODFW concluded death by wolf depredation was only probable, and not “confirmed.”

“Confirmed” is the most conclusive designation, she said but noted the difficulty in confirming wolf depredation without having physical evidence of a wolf.

Once adopted, the new plan will be the third edition of the wolf plan, which was first adopted in 2005 after an extensive public process and revised in 2010.

The proposed draft plan was written by staff but involved extensive meetings with stakeholders and public comment at several prior commission meetings, according to ODFW staff. In 2018, the commission also directed ODFW staff to host facilitated meetings with stakeholders to seek consensus on unresolved issues.

According to a press release from ODFW, the draft plan incorporates ideas where consensus was reached, but agreement was not possible on all topics.

“Wolf management is a polarizing topic with strong views on all sides, so it’s tough to find consensus,” said Derek Broman, ODFW carnivore and furbearer program coordinator. “But regardless of people’s views on wolves, the wolf population in Oregon is growing in size, number of packs and packs reproducing, while expanding its range.”

Defining chronic depredation that might lead to lethal control of wolves and hunting of wolves are some of the most contentious issues. Staff previously proposed the definition of chronic depredation be three confirmed depredations in a 12-month period in Phase 2 and 3, a change from the current definition (two confirmed depredations in an unlimited time frame). Due to feedback from stakeholders at the facilitated meetings, the draft plan now proposes two confirmed depredations in nine months in Phases 2 and 3 (so the only change from the current definition is a 9-month time restriction), according to the press release.

Like the original plan, the draft plan would allow controlled take only in Phase 3 (currently eastern Oregon) in instances of recurring depredations or when wolves are a major cause of ungulate populations not meeting established management objectives or herd management goals.

ODFW is not proposing any controlled take of wolves at this time, but believes regulated hunting and trapping needs to remain a tool available for wolf management, according to the release. Any proposal for controlled take of wolves would require commission approval through a separate planning and hunt development process.

Other major topics addressed in plan include:

•Wolf-livestock conflict, including an expanded section on the latest non-lethal tools and techniques for reducing conflict.

•Wolf interactions with native ungulate populations, including annual ungulate population estimates before and after wolf establishment. Elk, wolves’ primary prey, have increased in some units with wolves and decreased in others.

• Wolf population monitoring and potential conservation threats.

•Strategies to address wolf-human interactions.

Public testimony on the draft plan will be taken during the June 7 meeting and can also be sent to odfw.commission@state.or.us class="Apple-converted-space"> Emails sent by May 23 will be included with the staff proposal as part of the review materials shared with commissioners prior to the meeting.

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