For Immediate Release, April 18, 2023
Amaroq Weiss, (707) 779-9613, firstname.lastname@example.org
Oregon’s Annual Wolf Report Reveals Only Three Additional Wolves
Past Year Marked by Multiple Poachings, Agency Killings
PORTLAND, Ore.— Oregon’s wolf population increased by just three confirmed animals in 2022 — rising from 175 to 178 wolves — according to a report released today by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. High levels of wolves killed by people likely explains the stalled recovery of the state’s wolf population.
Today’s report documents a total of 20 known wolf deaths in 2022. People killed 17 wolves, with seven killed illegally. This is the second year in a row in which illegal killing of wolves soared, with eight known poaching deaths in 2021. This brings the total to at least 32 known wolves poached since 2012.
“The past few years have been filled with tragedy for Oregon’s wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, a senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I urge the department to rethink how often it resorts to killing wolves and focus more on nonlethal approaches and stopping poaching.”
One of the poached wolves was killed in the area of Oregon where wolves are still fully protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The individual who killed the wolf thought the animal was a coyote, turned himself in and was fined only $1,453 for killing a federally endangered wolf.
The past two years also have seen some of the highest numbers of wolves killed by state officials or livestock owners over conflicts with livestock, with seven wolves killed in 2022 and nine killed in 2021. Two additional wolves died from vehicle strikes, and one died after being shot purportedly in self-defense.
The overall population increase represents an annual growth rate of 1.7% above last year’s numbers. This marks the sixth straight year that growth was well below the 30% expected for a wolf population still in the early stages of recovery. The annual growth rate for Oregon’s wolves over the past seven years has averaged only around 7.2%.
There were 24 reported packs in 2022, up from 21 the year before, while the number of breeding pairs increased by only one from 16 to 17 successful breeding pairs.
On a positive note there are now four packs, each with successful breeding pairs, in western Oregon. An additional six groups of two to three wolves that do not meet the definition of a pack live in the Cascades.
“Oregon’s state wolf plan is supposed to be adaptive to changing circumstances but this report shows it’s falling flat,” said Weiss. “The stagnating recovery is a signal to the department to take a good, hard look at what changes are needed to get these incredible animals back on an upward trajectory.”
All but four of Oregon’s wolf packs are concentrated in the northeast, though wolves once ranged widely across Oregon and a great deal of suitable wolf habitat still exists across the state.
Wolves in the eastern one-third of Oregon were stripped of federal protections by Congress in 2011. In 2015 the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission removed wolves from the state endangered species list even though wolves are still absent from nearly 90% of the state’s suitable habitat. In 2019 the commission revised the state wolf management plan to open the door to potential wolf hunting and trapping.
Wolves throughout the western two-thirds of Oregon were stripped of federal protections by the Trump administration in January 2021. These protections were restored by a federal judge in 2022 based on a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center and other partners.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.