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For Immediate Release, June 18, 2010

Contact:  Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Authorization to Kill Oregon Wolves Extended; Punitive Killings Threaten Wolf Recovery

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday extended by another week authorization for the federal agency known as Wildlife Services to kill two uncollared wolves in eastern Oregon. The extension will likely mean the shooting of two wolves of the Imnaha Pack, the only known breeding wolf pack in the state, despite the fact that the wolves’ last livestock kills occurred on June 4, two weeks ago, and that it is not known which of the 11 animals in the pack may have previously preyed on stock.

“Killing two wolves that may or may not have been involved in livestock depredations more than two weeks ago is a purely punitive act,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With so few wolves, Oregon cannot afford to kill these two individuals.”

The continued hunting of members of the Imnaha Pack proceeds even as oral arguments concluded on Tuesday in the conservationist lawsuit to restore the wolves’ protections under the Endangered Species Act. If a federal court in Missoula agrees with the arguments of the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the wolves in Montana and Idaho, along with those in the eastern third of Oregon and Washington, will be returned to the endangered species list, potentially stopping the kind of killings authorized by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Authorization of the killing of two of the few wolves in Oregon demonstrates that wolves continue to need protection under the Endangered Species Act,” said Greenwald.

In the absence of Endangered Species Act protections, wolves in Oregon are managed under the “Oregon Wolf Management Plan,” which is currently under review by the state agency to determine if it needs changes. The plan calls for deterring wolf predation on livestock through non-injurious means (such as the cleaning up carcasses of non-wolf-killed livestock that may attract wolves, which is widely supported) but also gives Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife great discretion to issue kill permits if these measures are considered ineffective. Conservation groups, including the Center, sent a letter to the agency this week asking it to withdraw authorization for killing the two wolves because not enough had been done by area ranchers to avoid depredations.

“The Oregon Wolf Management Plan needs to be strengthened to ensure that members of Oregon’s fragile wolf population will not be killed until all measures have been taken to avoid depredations,” said Greenwald.

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