Target: Roy Elicker, CEO of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Goal: Demand that officials maintain protections for Oregon’s wolves under the Endangered Species Act, rather than delisting the animals and making it legal to hunt them
The rugged mountains of Eastern Oregon have seen the return of a few hearty wolves, much to the delight of conservationists. But cattle ranchers in the sparsely-populated region are up in arms, many of them determined to kill every last wolf and pup. The state’s Endangered Species Act has offered much-needed protection, but there is a real risk the animals will be delisted in 2015. And that could spell the end, once again, of Oregon’s elusive gray wolves.
Oregon was considered “wolf free” for more than 50 years after a government bounty on the beasts resulted in their extermination. Other western wolf packs saw a similar fate. Because deer and elk herds require predation to ensure their health, wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park in the late 1990’s. Within a few years the first wolves had made their way to Oregon, and the battle began anew.
Since their 2012 federal delisting nearly half of all gray wolves in the United States have been ruthlessly slaughtered. Biologists estimate that less than 1,900 remain in the wild, according to Willamette Week. Oregon’s wolf population is but a fraction of the whole, at some 64 individuals; yet ranchers and hunters eager to halt the wolves’ rebound expect that in 2015 they will once again be free to kill the animals. This is only possible because of an absurdly low minimum threshold for delisting, “at least four breeding pairs of wolves in Eastern Oregon for three years,” writes the Statesman Journal.
Demand that wildlife officials maintain protections for Oregon’s gray wolves under the state’s Endangered Species Act. To delist them now would be a death sentence for these majestic beasts.
Dear Mr. Elicker,
In 2015 the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will have the opportunity to delist the gray wolf, thus ending its protection under the local Endangered Species Act. Should the wolves be delisted it will almost certainly result in their complete annihilation.
Although most Oregonians support the return of these incredible animals, a small number of hunters and ranchers are determined to wipe them out with no regard to the impact this would have on the food web. Within two years of their federal delisting, nearly half the wolves living in the United States have been hunted down.
Willamette Week reports that more cattle are killed each year in auto accidents than are killed by wolves. But the predators remain deeply misunderstood, and people fear what they do not understand. Don’t let ignorance decimate Oregon’s wolf populations a second time. I implore you to uphold protections for the state’s gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr