FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands – 541.844.8182
Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild - 503.283.6343 ext 212
Ivan Maluski, Oregon Sierra Club – 503.449.2270
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity – 503.484.7495
Salem, ORE - As the 2012 Oregon Legislative session came to a conclusion, conservationists are celebrating another dodged bullet aimed at Oregon’s recovering gray wolves. For the third time in three consecutive legislative sessions, anti-wolf interests spearheaded by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association pushed for sweeping changes to Oregon’s wildlife management laws with the intent to make it easier to kill endangered wolves.
This year’s version of “crying wolf” came in the form of HB 4158. The bill could have declared Oregon’s population of 29 confirmed wolves constituted a “state of emergency,” undermined an ongoing legal process, and circumvented the state Endangered Species Act in an effort to fast track the killing of gray wolves.
Anti-wolf legislation has repeatedly been rejected due to strong public opposition. This year, over 5,000 people wrote letters, e-mailed their representatives, or signed petitions opposing HB 4158. Over two dozen conservation groups also formally opposed the measure. Other recent efforts to weaken protections for wolves have been met with similar public reaction.
When the state’s compromise wolf plan was reviewed in 2010, more than 20,000 public comments were submitted with over 90% in favor of stronger protections for wolves. Last year, the state legislature rejected most anti-wolf measures and instead passed a taxpayer-supported compensation bill that paid livestock operators for missing livestock provided they had taken measures to prevent conflict. That bill drew mixed reactions from the conservation community while the defeat of wolf kill bills this year was widely celebrated.
Statements from wolf advocates on the close of the legislative session:
Rob Klavins, Wildlands and Wildlife Advocate – Oregon Wild:
“Time and again Oregonians have spoken in favor of protecting our state’s endangered native wildlife and Oregon’s fragile wolf recovery. Today wolves, along with Oregonians who care about wildlife, can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s time for Oregon’s leaders to stop responding when the same special interests that drove wolves to extinction in the last century cry ‘wolf’ yet again. We hope future legislators will see these anti-wildlife proposals for what they are – crying wolf – and focus on the truly important and urgent problems our state faces. Undermining basic protections for wildlife should not be an annual sideshow in Salem. Instead we should be focusing on the recovery of a native species once driven to extinction in a state that now prides itself on its conservation ethic.”
Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director – Cascadia Wildlands:
“The answer to reducing conflict between endangered wolves and livestock isn't circumventing the state's landmark Endangered Species Act prohibition on killing wolves. It is recognizing that this is a new era with wolves back on the landscape, that a compensation program was established to reimburse proactive livestock producers who suffer losses, and that livestock husbandry practices are going to have to evolve as new and innovative conflict-reduction tools arise.”
Ivan Maluski, Conservation Director –Oregon Chapter Sierra Club:
“With so much important business to take care of this month, it was profoundly disappointing that some in the Oregon Legislature made it their focus to undermine protections for Oregon's endangered wolves. If it wasn't for the support of Oregonians across the state and legislators who support wolf recovery in Oregon, we could have seen a much different outcome in what has become a perennial effort by special interest groups to expand efforts to kill off members of Oregon's struggling wolf population. Despite the rhetoric of a small minority of anti-wolf interests, the presence of wolves in Oregon brings both ecological and economic benefits to the state, and wolf recovery has become one of Oregon's greatest conservation success stories and something we should all be proud of."
Noah Greenwald, Endangered Species Program Director – Center for Biological Diversity:
“While people around the world celebrate the great conservation success story of Journey, anti-wildlife interests seem hell-bent on killing this pack. When the state continued to bend to political pressure from the livestock industry and other special interests with no interest in meaningful wolf recovery we went to court to challenge the illegal killing of wolves. When the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association discovered the law didn’t allow the state to purposely kill endangered species, they tried to change the law. That’s out of touch with Oregon’s values. Now that the wolf kill bill has itself been killed, we hope the state will refocus on the conservation and recovery of this persecuted and beneficial species.”