Wolf-take rules back on Oregon's books

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The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a plan Friday to allow enforcement officers to once again kill wolves preying on livestock.

The commission enacted revisions to the state's wolf management plan approved by state lawmakers last month. The revisions to the wolf management plan will allow game officers to kill wolves but only as a last resort. Officers must have at least four qualifying incidences of wolves preying on livestock. Officers also have to prove they tried non-lethal methods of deterring wolves first.

Ranchers would be allowed to kill wolves caught in the act of preying on cattle or sheep.

The new provisions require the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to report its actions to the public. The department will start posting wolf activity and responses by enforcement officers to its website.

Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild's conservation director, said the agreement reflects a year's worth of compromise.

"Everyone from the conservation community to the livestock producers to the state wildlife managers are really on the same page right now," he said. "And there is really not other state in the country that is in that position on wolves."

The settlement agreement came after environmental groups, including Oregon Wild, filed a legal challenge in 2011. The Oregon Court of Appeals then told state wildlife managers last fall to stop all prescribed wolf kills. This agreement by the parties will end the court challenge and will allow wildlife managers to resume killing wolves to reduce conflicts with livestock and ranchers.

This plan is very similar to Washington's state management plan adopted in 2011. In Idaho, ranchers and wildlife managers don't have as many requirements in order to kill wolves. The 2013 wolf hunting season has started this month in certain parts of Idaho.