Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, is one of nine representatives and five senators sponsoring a new bill in the Oregon House that aims to kill the remaining four wolves in the Imnaha pack in northeast Oregon.
The pack was the first to return to Oregon in 60 years. The Imnaha is also the home pack of “Journey,” the wolf that recently trekked across Oregon, making its way to California and cementing his role in history as the first wild wolf to visit that state since 1924.
The wolves of the Imnaha pack have been connected to several lifestock killings since arriving in Oregon around 2009.
House Bill 4158 was introduced on behalf of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. Members of the association have been vocal about their interest in killing wolves that prey on livestock.
In 2011, wolves killed about 25 of the 1.3 million cattle in the state, according to a press release from Oregon Wild sent out regarding the new legislation. In comparison, about 55,000 cattle were lost due to weather, disease and theft-related issues, according to the press release. Cattle owners are compensated by the state of Oregon for slain livestock.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ordered the killing of two of the wolves in the Imnaha pack in September—the alpha male and a yearling. Legal challenges from environmental groups resulted in court orders preventing the killings. Courts are currently weighing whether the department has the authority to kill animals currently listed on the state’s endangered species list, said the press release.
The legislation introduced in the House would essentially sidestep the court process and authorize the killing of not just the alpha male and the yearling, but any other wolves in the state associated with slain livestock, possibly including the alpha female and a wolf cub in the Imnaha pack.
HB 4158 is one of about 270 bills the Legislature will consider between now and Feb. 29, when the lawmaking session is slated to end.
Whisnant can be reached by email at email@example.com and or phone at 503-986-1453.