Oregon’s wolves are in serious trouble. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) recently announced their support for a misguided and reckless proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to end federal Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves across the Lower 48 states (“ODFW supports federal wolf delisting,” May 13).
This proposal is premature and would jeopardize a nascent, but fragile recovery of these iconic canines. It flouts sound science and the values of the American public, including Oregonians. It further opens the door for trophy hunting and trapping more of America’s wolves — including, possibly, the 137 living in Oregon.
This announcement comes on the heels of ODFW’s release of the latest draft Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The draft Wolf Plan contains numerous ill-advised provisions that portend a dark path toward wolf trophy hunting and trapping in Oregon. Oregonians should urge the Fish and Wildlife Commission to reject the Wolf Plan at its June 7 meeting.
As a lifelong hunter and Oregonian, I am deeply distressed by the plight of wolves in Oregon and across the country. Hunters have long recognized their important role as good stewards of the wildlife resources that we all share — hunters and non-hunters alike. As good stewards, we appreciate the vital importance of apex native carnivores, like wolves, in keeping ecosystems abundant, healthy, and diverse.
Most hunters I know follow a general set of principles connected to the modern era of wildlife management and the broad acceptance of the North American Wildlife Management Model. Those standards are inconsistent with trophy hunting, where the primary motivation for the hunt is for bragging rights or a trophy but not for subsistence. As a lifelong outdoorsman, I am baffled as to why any hunters practice anything other than “eat what you kill.”
Those who seek to kill wolves give a black eye to all ethical hunters who do not engage in trophy hunting. It paints us all with the same brush as Walter Palmer (the dentist who killed famous Cecil the lion), Blake Fischer (the Idaho Fish and Game commissioner who resigned after amid public controversy over his killing a family of baboons), and other trophy hunters who shunned a basic tenet of hunting: respect and reverence for the natural world and to use what you kill for more than a photo op.
Three of Governor Brown’s five recent nominations to the very Commission which will consider the Wolf Plan have significant conflicts of interest and are directly involved with the industries they would be charged with regulating. Thankfully one of these three, James Nash, a trophy hunter who has posted countless photos on social media standing over dead hippos, sharks, zebras, and other exotic wildlife, and who is a vocal opponent of wolves, was pulled from the list of nominees at a Senate Rules Committee hearing on May 8.
Rather than assuring the Commission will be a scientific, diverse body, Gov. Brown nominated candidates who have pushed policies that do not reflect the conservation values of most Oregonians or even most hunters. This is the slate of folks will soon be making decisions about Oregon’s wolves and wildlife. Now more than ever, Oregon needs a diverse, scientific, and unbiased commission.