Oregon Gov. Kate Brown last week wrote one of the most interesting letters we’ve ever read. It was addressed to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.
It in it, she tries to appease all sides of the issue of managing gray wolves in Oregon — ranchers, environmentalists, hunters and others.
“The success of wolf recovery in Oregon is unquestioned,” she wrote.
So far, so good. More than 137 wolves live in the state. They have been turning up in much of Oregon, from the northeastern corner to the southwestern corner. There’s no reason to believe they won’t keep thriving as they continue to spread across the rest of the state.
But then she said something we found to be, well, a bit odd.
“I appreciate the documentation of the significant successes our fish and wildlife agency has described in its letter,” she wrote. Earlier in the week, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife had supported taking the gray wolf off the list of wildlife protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Brown was writing to “clarify and correct” that letter.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Interior Department, has proposed taking the gray wolf off that list. It cites the rapid growth of the wolf population in the Lower 48 states — from 66 to more than 6,000 in about 25 years. That’s more than the combined recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Western Great Lakes populations, according to the agency.
Like Brown, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service describes the wolf’s comeback as a “success.”
But the governor frets that, even though wolves are doing well in Oregon, some other states may not be up to the task of managing them.
“Our collaborative work and its success cannot protect imperiled wildlife beyond our borders in other states,” she wrote. “(W)olves are on the path to recovery and do not warrant a listing within Oregon, but their listing under the federal Endangered Species Act affords them some protection across their range.”
Then Brown sums up her positions. “Oregon supports the current federal listing status for gray wolves, and opposes delisting,” she wrote. “Our state investments should be mirrored by other states that can help lead to recovery of the species across a significant portion of its historic range.”
So, according to the governor, the wolf doesn’t need to be federally protected in Oregon. We agree.
But we’re also sure those other states will do just fine in managing gray wolves despite the governor’s concerns.