By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- An Oregon House committee has passed a bill allowing ranchers in zones of chronic wolf depredation to kill wolves attacking or chasing livestock.
House Bill 3452 as amended allows ranchers to kill, or "take," wolves without a permit, the first permit-less take of wolves allowed since wolf packs began to re-inhabit Oregon earlier this century.
Wolves were hunted to extinction in Oregon in the early 1900s.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on April 18 moved the bill to the floor with a do-pass recommendation, with a stop in the House Rules Committee, where the bill could be further amended.
The bill also clarifies in statute that the state can lethally take wolves to address chronic depredation of livestock, a provision that would remove a stay on a current state order to kill two problem wolves from the Imnaha pack.
Wolves from the pack have killed more than two dozen head of livestock in recent years in Wallowa County.
The bill passed with only Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-Portland voting against it.