Politics Prevail: Oregon Wolf Captured and Removed from State Against Widespread Opposition

(03/29/1999) - Defenders of Wildlife today reacted with disappointment to the news that the wolf that briefly called Oregon home had been captured and relocated over the weekend. Calling the capture a blow to natural wolf recovery, the leading national wolf conservation and recovery organization warned against similar future actions and suggested that wolves be allowed to roam where nature takes them, as long as they remain trouble-free.

"This wolf was doing exactly what she was supposed to," said Defenders President Rodger Schlickeisen. "She was staying away from people and livestock, hunting on natural prey, and looking for a territory to call her own. But once again, preemptive fears about what a wolf might do prevailed, and now she's been removed."

The wolf, B-45, wandered into Oregon from neighboring Idaho in February. She thrived and did quite well while in Oregon according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) officials who had been tracking her every move since she entered Oregon. She was captured with the aid of a net gun near the town of John Day, Oregon. Data collected after her capture indicated B-45 was healthy and had actually gained weight while in Oregon. FWS officials were concerned about her ability to find a mate in Oregon and cited that as a reason for her capture and relocation to Idaho. However, mating season is well over for the year.

"The lesson here is that we should let nature take its course," said Schlickeisen. "She probably would have returned to Idaho in search of a mate, but we should have let her make that move on her own. Wolves have to be allowed to disperse into their historic, suitable habitat, and they shouldn't be bound by artificial, political boundaries."

Some Oregon officials pressured FWS to capture and relocate the wolf because of potential management concerns. But the wolf had caused no trouble, and Defenders of Wildlife had already extended its Wolf Compensation Trust to cover Oregon, an act that assured ranchers that they would be financially compensated, at full market value, for any livestock losses due to wolves.

"The `Little Red Riding Hood' syndrome still triumphs over common sense," says Schlickeisen. "We wouldn't send Fish and Wildlife agents to retrieve a bald eagle that flew across state lines. Wolves need to be given the same chance if they are to avoid extinction. Wolves don't eat grandmothers, and they rarely attack livestock."



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270