For Immediate Release, August 16, 2007
Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 x 212
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Conservation Groups Offer Reward for Killer of Endangered Oregon Wolf
Illegal Killing of Wolves Is Major Obstacle to Recovery in Oregon;
Shooting Highlights the Need for Continued Endangered Species Act Protection
PORTLAND, Ore.— In response to the illegal shooting of a female endangered gray wolf in eastern Oregon earlier this year, Oregon Wild and the Center for Biological Diversity announced today that they are offering a $4,000 reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the crime. The fund is in addition to $5,000 that has been offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The killing of endangered wildlife like this wolf is a crime against Oregon’s children,” said Steve Pedery, conservation director of Oregon Wild. “Wolves are the icons of American wilderness, and we hope this reward will produce information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever committed this crime.”
Since their reintroduction to the northern Rockies in 1994, wolf populations have steadily recovered in the northern Rockies. The animals have been slowly making their way back into Oregon, with a total of six confirmed and many unconfirmed sightings documented in the past ten years. In response, the state of Oregon completed a wolf management plan in 2005, which sets a goal of eight packs split between eastern and western Oregon.
“Wolves are an integral part of the web of life in the American West,” said Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “With continued legal protection from poaching and preservation of Oregon’s wildlands, this majestic animal could once again thrive in our state.”
Once common in Oregon, wolves were eradicated from the state by the 1940s as part of a concerted effort to shoot, trap or poison every wolf in the western United States. In 1974, wolves were protected as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act, and today killing a wolf is currently a federal crime. Although wolf numbers have increased dramatically within parts of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana over the past decade, this remains a small portion of their historic range. Oregon possesses tens of thousands of acres of roadless backcountry areas that could provide excellent habitat for recovered wolf populations.
Despite the fact that wolves are still absent from many areas and that poaching remains a serious threat, the Bush administration has moved to strip the gray wolf of Endangered Species Act protection. Politicians in Wyoming and Idaho have already vowed to kill the majority of wolves in their respective states if the animals lose their protected status, placing recovery of the species in Oregon and elsewhere in jeopardy.
“Wolf recovery could be a great American conservation success story, like the bald eagle,” added Pedery. “But they need time and continued legal protection, especially here in Oregon. Our grandchildren deserve a chance to hear the howl of a wolf echo across places like the Eagle Cap Wilderness, and we should act today to ensure that they have it.”
Researchers from Oregon State University found that wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park has had unexpected benefits to the environment throughout the region. By causing elk and deer herds to move around more, wolves have reduced overgrazing and led to the regrowth of important streamside vegetation. This in turn has led to improved fish habitat and an increased beaver population. Wolves strengthen deer and elk herds by thinning out the sick, old and dying, and keep populations of other predators, like coyotes and cougars, in check, which benefits a host of wildlife species.
Anyone with information about the wolf's death should call Special Agent Jim Stinebaugh, (503) 682-6131, or Senior Trooper Darren Chandler, (541) 963-7175.
For more information about wolf recovery, please see: http://www.oregonwild.org/fish_wildlife/bringing_wolves_back/index_html