For Immediate Release, April 15, 2020

Contact:

Amaroq Weiss, (707) 779-9613, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org

Oregon’s Wolf Population Grows to 22 Packs, 158 Animals

Wolves Still Concentrated in Northeast Oregon, More Growth Key to Recovery

PORTLAND, Ore.— Oregon’s wolf population increased by 21 confirmed animals from 137 to 158 wolves in 2019, according to a report released today by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. The state also added six new packs, for a total of 22. The overall population increase marks an annual growth rate of 15% above last year’s numbers.

“We’re excited to see some of Oregon’s wolves move into new places and that the state did not kill any wolves this past year for conflicts with livestock,” said Amaroq Weiss, a West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Efforts by the state to help livestock operators understand and use nonlethal conflict-prevention tools will be essential for coexistence and continued wolf recovery.”

As the new report shows, livestock-wolf conflicts have decreased substantially this year from the year before, from 28 confirmed in 2018 to only 16 confirmed in 2019, even though wolf numbers are up and the animals are occupying new habitat. This includes the Indigo wolves, confirmed in 2019 as a pack ranging in Douglas and Lane counties, making it the third known wolf family in the western part of the state.

The annual growth rate for Oregon’s wolves has hovered at only around 10% for the past three years. Today’s report documents seven known wolf mortalities in 2019, including six caused by people. Those include four wolves that died from vehicle strikes, a fifth wolf officials had to euthanize due to severe injuries from a vehicle strike, and one wolf killed legally by a livestock operator when the wolf was caught chasing his herding dog. All but three packs are concentrated in northeastern Oregon, which is a small fraction of the wolf’s original range in the state.

“As this limited population uptick shows, gray wolves remain far from recovered in Oregon or across the U.S. and still need protection,” Weiss said. “Wolves can live wherever people will tolerate them but, tragically, state and federal policies instead frequently seek to strip wolves of protections and allow them to be killed.”

In 2015 the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission removed wolves from the state endangered species list, even though Oregon’s wolves are still absent from nearly 90% of the state’s suitable habitat. And last year, the commission revised the state wolf management plan to open the door to potential wolf hunting and trapping.

For now gray wolves remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in western Oregon, but the Trump administration has proposed removing their protection, despite the small number of wolves in western Oregon and elsewhere in their range.

Wenaha Wolf Sept 2018 - ODFW.jpg
A Wenaha Pack wolf. Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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.