Oregon Agency Ramps Up Wolf Killing to Appease Livestock Industry

Three Wolf Packs Under Gun, Six Wolves Killed So Far

PORTLAND, Ore.— Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials today announced the killing of two members of the Wildcat pack, one of three wolf families for whom the department has issued kill orders in the past six weeks.

Four wolves from the Five Points pack already have been killed, bringing the current tally to six dead wolves. Kill permits issued to area livestock owners remain open until late fall for two members of the Lookout Mountain pack.

“It’s shocking that Oregon has so aggressively ramped up its killing of wolves on behalf of the livestock industry,” said Amaroq Weiss, a senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The state used to be a model for wolf conservation and coexistence, but now it’s a heart-breaking example of what not to do.”

The department issued a kill order on the Five Points pack on July 21, permitting the affected livestock owner or their agent to kill wolves until Oct. 31 or until four wolves had been killed. By early August, four pack members were killed by agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services acting on the rancher’s behalf, wiping out an entire third of this wolf family. Wildlife Services killed the wolves despite not yet having completed an Environmental Impact Statement to analyze the harms of the federal program on wolves and other wildlife.

On Aug. 4 the department issued its next kill order, this time for two members of the Lookout Mountain pack until Nov. 15. This pack currently consists of four wolves, and killing two would wipe out half the pack. The Lookout Mountain pack has been targeted by the agency multiple times in the recent past, including a kill order in 2021 when agency staff gunned down the pack’s breeding male, two yearlings, and five four-month-old pups.

Thereafter, on Aug. 15, the department issued yet another kill order, lasting until Oct. 31, for two members of the Wildcat pack, and permitting the affected livestock owner or their agent to kill the wolves. On Aug. 29, the department granted a second livestock owner a similar permit for the pack.

Today’s announcement that two Wildcat wolves have been killed indicated that once again agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, despite not yet having completed a required Environmental Impact Statement, killed the wolves while acting on behalf of one of the livestock owners.

“The department is aware of the science that concludes killing wolves is ineffective for resolving conflicts and has very negative effects on surviving pack members, but keeps ordering wolves killed anyway,” said Weiss. “It’s inhumane and runs counter to the high value Oregonians place on having wolves back on the landscape.”

In a departure from past practice, these three most recent kill orders are of lengthy duration. Wolf-kill permits normally last for 30 days and on occasion have been extended. The department has justified these extended kill permits by arguing it reduces its own workload. However, the permits serve as a disincentive for livestock owners to prioritize using nonlethal conflict deterrence measures instead.

Oregon has 1.24 million cattle and 165,000 sheep. As of the end of 2022, the department’s annual wolf report confirmed only 178 wolves in the state. Annual confirmed and probable wolf-caused losses on average amount to only 0.001% of Oregon’s livestock.

“Oregon is squandering its previously well-deserved reputation for solid, science-based wolf management,” said Weiss. “It now seems to be modeling itself after our barbaric wolf-killing neighbor to the east, Idaho, in a race to the bottom to see which state can kill more wolves on behalf of the livestock industry, ignoring science and the impacts on wolf biology and behavior.”

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