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"Managing" Wolves to Extinction 

When wild wolves started returning to Oregon after an absence of more than 60 years, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife developed something it calls its "Wolf Conservation and Management Plan." Judging by the results so far, maybe ODFW should rename it the "Wolf Eradication Plan."

Just a year ago, there were 21 gray wolves in three packs living in the forests of remote northeastern Oregon. Now, mostly because of poaching and the killing of wolves by ODFW and by ranchers with ODFW permits, that number is down to 14 - and ODFW wants to cut it to 12.

In May, ODFW announced plans to kill two wolves belonging to the Imnaha Pack because they're suspected of killing a calf. If the death sentence is carried out it likely will mean the extermination of the pack, because the remaining female and young pup probably wouldn't make it through the winter on their own.

Fortunately, three conservationist groups stepped in. They challenged the legality of ODFW's plan, and last week won an injunction from the Oregon Court of Appeals temporarily blocking the wolf executions.

The wolf management plan requires ODFW to use non-lethal methods to prevent wolf predation and kill wolves only as a last resort. But ODFW has shown itself increasingly eager to oblige the Oregon Cattlemen's Association and individual ranchers whose preferred method of "wolf control" is the bullet.

If it succeeds, as we hope it does, the conservationists' lawsuit could result in a more sane and balanced wolf management policy. In the meantime, ODFW gets THE BOOT for its "the-only-good-wolf-is-a-dead-wolf" philosophy.


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