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Conservation Groups Withdraw From Oregon Wolf Plan Meetings in Protest of Potential Increase in Killings

“It is unclear what is next for Oregon's wolf plan. We hope that the Governor and this commission will do the right thing.”

Four Oregon conservation groups announced yesterday that they are pulling out of meetings arranged by Gov. Kate Brown regarding the state's wolf management plan.

Representatives from the Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, and Defenders of Wildlife say that process for dealing with Oregon's wolf population is  "flawed," and that it is too easy for wildlife managers to lobby for killings.

At the behest of Gov. Kate Brown, and after repeated revisions to and objections of the state's wolf plan, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife launched stakeholder meetings between ranchers, hunters and conservation groups.

Conservationists say the agency did not adequately address their concerns. Instead, they say ODFW "appears to be moving forward with a proposal that is worse than when negotiations began, allowing the killing of wolves more quickly than before in response to livestock predations."

"All of our requests and suggestions fell on deaf ears in these negotiations and thus there was no further point in participating further," Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Centers for Biological Diversity, tells WW.

Tensions between ranchers and conservationists over how the state should handle the gray wolf population have been building for over a decade. ODFW occasionally grants wolf hunting permits to livestock owners whose animals have been slain by the predators. Conservation groups say other forms of intervention are more effective.

The groups are urging Gov. Brown to prioritize non-lethal wolf management techniques. Greenwald and others say they will continue advocating for wolf population recovery outside of the state-sponsored stakeholder process.

"We believe that we can be more effective advocates now that we are no longer giving legitimacy to a broken stakeholder process," Oregon Wild spokesperson Sean Stevens says. "It is unclear what is next for Oregon's wolf plan. We hope that the Governor and this commission will do the right thing."

A spokesperson for ODFW did not immediately respond to WW's request for comment on the conservation groups' exit.