Several hours after Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists announced that with wolves meeting the criteria they were recommending the species be delisted, fans of the wild canid howled their opposition, claiming independent scientists found “significant flaws in a ‘population viability analysis'” that shows there’s a low risk of the species extinction.
In a 111-page letter to the Fish & Wildlife Commission, which is scheduled to make a decision Nov. 9, a researcher says ODFW modeling “seems to produce unrealistically stable and high population growth.”
The group, which includes Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and Center for Biological Diversity, among others, argue that with wolves missing from 90 percent of their former range, it’s hard to consider them recovered and a candidate for delisting.
ODFW argues that its wolf management plan, crafted with stakeholders, calls for considering delisting when population benchmarks are met — four successful breeding pairs for three straight years — and those were earlier this year. Wolves have also spread clear across the state and into Northern California.
To delist, state ESA laws requires ODFW address five criteria, and the agency argues:
Wolves are represented over a large geographic area of Oregon, are connected to other populations, and nothing is preventing them from occupying additional portions of Oregon.
The wolf population is projected to continue to increase. The overall probability of extinction is very low and genetic variation is high.
Wolf habitat in Oregon is stable and wolf range is expanding.
Over-utilization of wolves is unlikely as the Wolf Plan continues to provide protections for wolves and any commercial, recreational or scientific take in the future is regulated by the Commission.
The Wolf Plan ensures protection of wolves in the future, regardless of ESA status.