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Re-introducing wolves into Oregon!

Wolf in the wild

Defenders of Wildlife!

We need you to speak up for science-based wolf recovery in Oregon during public hearings being held throughout the state. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is sponsoring “town hall meetings” about whether to allow wolves to return to our state and what type of management plan for wolves, if any, they should develop. During the months of November and December, it is critical that you attend these meetings and express your support for the return of wolves. We expect high attendance by individuals and representatives of organizations that oppose the return of the wolf to Oregon, making it all the more urgent that ODFW hears from wolf recovery supporters. To ensure support for wolves and to ensure that any plan to manage wolves here be firmly based upon science rather than political concerns, the Department of Fish and Wildlife needs to hear your views.

Attend one of the town hall meetings and express your support for wolves returning to Oregon. There are 14 town hall meetings across the state.
Here are some suggested talking points:
- The wolves are coming, regardless of differing viewpoints on the issue, and the state has an obligation to develop a responsible, science-based management plan to recover and conserve this species, just as it does with other species.
- To ensure a successful recovery, a management plan should be developed by a Governor-appointed committee as was done in Montana—not a legislatively-created committee—that contains representatives of a broad spectrum of the public.
- We should leave behind to future generations ecosystems that are whole and intact.
- Predators and prey evolved together and restoring wolves to the ecosystem makes that system healthier.
- In areas where wolves have been restored, increased ecotourism due to wolf presence has resulted in economic benefits to individual businesses and communities.

When Europeans first set foot on North America, the gray wolf (Canis lupus) ranged across the continent from Mexico’s Central Plateau to Canada and Alaska’s low Arctic, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Coast. Deciduous forests of what is now the southeastern United States, from southern Pennsylvania to Florida and from the Mississippi Delta to the Atlantic, also were home to the red wolf (Canis rufus). The two species combined may have numbered as high as 400,000 prior to European contact. By the 1970s, three centuries of persecution had eliminated wolves of both species from the wild everywhere in the contiguous United States except in northeastern Minnesota, where fewer than 1,000 gray wolves remained.
Today, both gray and red wolves are making a comeback. Gray wolves have increased substantially in Minnesota and have re-colonized parts of northern Wisconsin, northern Michigan and northwestern Montana without human intervention. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has reintroduced the gray wolf in central Idaho and in the Yellowstone ecosystem of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Gray wolves have reappeared even in the North Cascades of Washington state, probably by dispersing from British Columbia. FWS reintroductions also are returning the gray wolf to east-central Arizona and red wolves to northeastern North Carolina.
Currently there is no formal plan by the federal OR state government for the recovery of wolves in Oregon. However, due to the successful management of wolves in Idaho, several dispersing wolves from that state have already entered Oregon and it is believed the population will eventually expand through Oregon. In 2001, Defenders filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging them to restore wolves in portions of Oregon which still contain highly suitable wolf habitat.

Achieving true long-term recovery of the gray wolf and red wolf requires not just protection and expansion of current populations but also active restoration of these species to additional areas. Multiple, resilient populations representing the full environmental, ecological and geographical spectrum for these species should be the standard by which recovery is judged. 

DENlines is a bi-weekly publication of Defenders of Wildlife, a leading national conservation organization recognized as one of the nation’s most progressive advocates for wildlife and habitat and known for its effective leadership on saving endangered species such as brown bears and gray wolves. Defenders advocates new approaches to wildlife conservation that protect species before they become endangered. Founded in 1947, Defenders is a nonprofit 501©(3) organization with more than 430,000 members and supporters.

From an email to members dated November 11, 2002
Defenders of Wildlife
1101 14th Street, NW, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20005