Entering Phase III of wolf management, Oregon Fish, and Wildlife documented the third year of seven or more breeding pairs in the eastern region of the state.
“Moving into Phase III is a significant milestone towards the recovery of gray wolves in Oregon,” says Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf biologist. “It shows how successful wolves can be in this state – in just nine years under existing management we have gone from no packs of wolves to multiple packs and an expanding distribution.”
Currently, under Phase III, the focus in eastern Oregon remains on the conservation of wolves and monitoring wolf-human conflicts, particularly surrounding agricultural operations. This plan does allow a controlled take of wolves, but the circumstances that allow it involve two separate determining factors.
Under the current plan, wolves can be lethally taken if they are either determined to be causing declines in ungulate species such as deer and elk or in situations of habitual livestock depredation.
“These Phase III provisions do not replace good faith efforts at non-lethal solutions to wolf conflicts,” Morgan says. “Take of wolves can only be considered as a management response in very specific situations and there are no plans for controlled take at this time.”
The western region of the state, on the other hand, still remains in Phase I of wolf management which mirrors many of the same protections offered by the Endangered Species Act, which currently protects wolves west of U.S. Highways 395, 78, 95.
The department utilizes both physical counts as well as radio-collar technology to assess population estimates, breeding pairs, and pack health.