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Official 2017 Washington Wolf Count Released

out_5_wolf_trail_cam_t1140The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released its official 2017 wolf count this past Friday.  You can find the report in full here, but fourteen wolves were killed by humans and the overall state population grew by just seven.  Concerns over high levels of human-caused wolf mortality are one of the reasons Cascadia Wildlands is challenging the state's "lethal protocol" that permits agency officials to kill wolves in response to livestock depredations. You can read more about that lawsuit here.


Press Release: Endangered Species Protection Sought for California, Oregon Salamander Threatened by Logging

For Immediate Release, March 12, 2018
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182, jlaughlin@cascwild.org
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 604-7739, jmiller@biologicaldiversity.org
George Sexton, KS Wild, (541) 778-8120, gs@kswild.org
ASHLAND, Ore.— Conservation groups filed a federal petition for Endangered Species Act protection today for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander, a rare terrestrial salamander that lives in old-growth forests in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and Northern California.
The salamander is threatened by federal land-agency plans to ramp up logging in southern Oregon.
“This highly specialized animal can’t adapt to logging, so it will be pushed to the brink of extinction without Endangered Species Act protection,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The salamander is a unique indicator species of forest health in the Siskiyou Mountains. It deserves immediate protection in the face of accelerated logging.”
“By eliminating the ‘survey and manage’ program that required timber planners to look for salamanders before logging their habitat, the Bureau of Land Management has put this rare species in further peril,” said George Sexton with KS Wild. “Increased logging of mature forests in the Applegate Valley could jeopardize the very survival of the salamander.”
The Siskiyou Mountains salamander (Plethodon stormi) is a long-bodied, short-limbed terrestrial salamander, brown in color with a sprinkling of white flecks. The species only lives in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and Northern California; it has the second-smallest range of any western Plethodontid salamander. Its best habitat is stabilized rock talus in old-growth forest, especially areas covered with thick moss. Mature forest canopy helps maintain a cool and stable moist microclimate.
“We have to ensure this unique salamander doesn’t blink out of existence,” said Josh Laughlin with Cascadia Wildlands. “In addition to playing an important ecological role by contributing to nutrient flow and soil health, the Siskiyou Mountains salamander is a distinct part of this region’s natural heritage.”
Today’s petition was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Environmental Protection Information Center and Cascadia Wildlands.
There are two distinct populations of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander separated by the Siskiyou Mountains crest — a larger northern population in the Applegate River drainage in Oregon and a small southern population in California’s Klamath River drainage. Most known Siskiyou Mountains salamander locations are on U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands.
Conservation groups first petitioned for protection of the salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004. To prevent the species’ listing, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a conservation agreement in 2007, intended to protect habitat for 110 high-priority salamander sites on federal lands in the Applegate River watershed. In 2008 the Fish and Wildlife Service denied protection for the salamander based on this conservation agreement and old-growth forest protections provided by the Northwest Forest Plan.
Under the Northwest Forest Plan, the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service were required to survey for rare species such as the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and designate protected buffers from logging where salamanders were found. But the Western Oregon Plan Revision adopted by the BLM in 2016 will substantially increase logging in western Oregon and undermine the habitat protections of the salamander conservation agreement.

Marbled Murrelet Listed as Endangered in Oregon!

For Immediate Release, February 9, 2018

Oregon Raises Protections for Rare Seabird

Logging, Loss of Prey, Climate Change All Endanger Marbled Murrelet

Marbled Murrelet -large

PORTLAND, Ore.— Responding to a petition from conservation groups, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted today to change the status of marbled murrelets from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.
The decision to uplist the murrelet reflects the increasingly imperiled status of the species in Oregon and represents an important step in reversing its ongoing decline toward extinction in the state.    
“We applaud the commission for recognizing that the marbled murrelet warrants endangered status in Oregon,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “This decision sets the stage for the state of Oregon to take the steps that will be necessary to recover this species in Oregon.”
The marbled murrelet is a seabird that nests in old-growth and mature forests and forages at sea. Its population has declined dramatically over the decades because of extensive logging in Oregon’s Coast Range. The commission’s decision could have implications for forest protection on state and private timberlands.
“While federal laws have stabilized habitat loss on federal lands, the state of Oregon has continued to allow logging of older forests at an alarming rate and failed to adequately address new threats to the species,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “Changing the murrelet’s status to endangered will help ensure that Oregon takes the steps necessary to do its part to save this species.”
In response to a petition from multiple conservation organizations, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife developed a status review to assess the murrelet’s condition. The review demonstrated that murrelets need increased protections under the Oregon Endangered Species Act due largely to loss of nesting habitat from ongoing clear-cut logging. State protections are critical, because although many of Oregon’s Coast Range old-growth forests have been logged and converted into industrial tree farms, some of the best remaining older forests occur on state-managed lands.
“We’re pleased commissioners made a sound, science-based decision that’s exactly what these desperately imperiled seabirds need to survive,” said Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science was absolutely clear that the murrelet warrants endangered status in Oregon. This protection will be critical to preserving an amazing part of our state’s natural heritage.”
The murrelet was listed as threatened in 1995. However, the recent status review conducted by Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife concluded that the “key threats identified at the time of listing have continued or increased, and many new threats have been identified since the 1990s … the life history exhibited by this species provides little opportunity for the population to rapidly increase even under the most optimal circumstances.” It also noted that the primary causes of marbled murrelet declines — loss and fragmentation of older forest habitat on which the bird depends for nesting — have “slowed, but not halted … since the 1990s,” with greatest losses occurring on lands managed by the state. The review specifically notes that existing programs and regulation have “failed to prevent continued high rates of habitat loss on nonfederal lands in Oregon.”
The Oregon Endangered Species Act requires that the commission adopt survival guidelines for the species at the time of reclassification. Survival guidelines are quantifiable and measurable guidelines necessary to ensure the survival of individual members of the species. Guidelines may include take avoidance and protecting resource sites such as nest sites or other sites critical to the survival of individual members of the species. They would serve as interim protection until endangered species management plans are developed by applicable state agencies and approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
“It is remarkable that this species has been listed as threatened for more than 20 years but the state of Oregon has never developed a plan to actually protect murrelets on either lands owned by the state of Oregon or private timber lands,” said Quinn Read, Northwest director of Defenders of Wildlife. “The status quo has failed this iconic Oregon seabird. We look forward to working with ODFW and other agencies to developing a plan that will truly protect this species and allow it to recover in Oregon.”
“This is an important step for ODFW.  The agency has struggled to faithfully act on it's core mission of protecting all native fish and wildlife in our state, but with this action to protect the marbled murrelet we hope they have turned the page,” said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director for Oregon Wild.
The conservation groups that initiated the petition to declare the marbled murrelet endangered in Oregon were Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland, the Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild, Coast Range Forest Watch and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club.



Cascade-Siskiyou; A Wonderland at a Biological and Political Crossroads

by Sam Krop, Cascadia Wildlands Grassroots Organizer

Straddling the border of Oregon and California, the beautiful and biologicall unique Cascade-Siskiyou NationalIMG_2179 Monument has received a lot of public attention lately. According to the Monument’s June 2000 establishing proclamation, the land is worthy of protection under the Antiquities Act as an “ecological wonder,” and a unique “biological crossroads” where several distinct ecoregions collide.  In January of 2017, the Obama administration approved expanding the Monument by 42,000 acres in Oregon and adding 5,000 acres in California. Now, following hasty and ill-informed recommendations from Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, the Monument is under threat of being stripped of those protections by the Trump administration.

This is a simple telling of the Cascade-Siskiyou’s history, and it doesn’t take a lot of digging to learn that there is lot more to the story than what appears on the surface.  To really comprehend the extraordinary nature of this place, you have to visit it yourself. For this reason, my partner and I took a trip down to the Monument—to see what we could learn from the place itself.

We dedicated the first part of our journey to exploring the land within the 2016 expanded boundary. In a single day’s journey, we walked through sprawling oak savannah, high desert-like country rich with sage, and mature forests boasting massive fir and pine. We saw a post-fire ecosystem in resurgence, t13ook in the breathtaking views of Shasta to the south and Mount McLoughlin to the north from rocky crags and heard the trickling of water making its way through crevices underground.  We walked the same trail that Zinke walked during his official Monument “review,” but I could not help but feel that we and Zinke were seeing completely different things.  

From our exploration, it was immediately evident that the land granted protection with the Monument’s expanded boundaries is far more than what Secretary Zinke called a “buffer” for the biological diversity inside of the original boundary. On the contrary, according to a 2011 study published by a diverse group of scientists, the expansion area is described as a part of, and home to many of the important ecological features the Monument was originally intended to protect.  The scientists go on to argue that “without Monument expansion…some of the area’s important biological values were at high risk of degradation and loss.” The words of these scientists reflect what we saw when we visited—that far from being a buffer, the land inside of the recent Monument expansion is an integral part of this incredible ecological wonderland.

In addition to seeing breaIMG_2224-2thtaking natural wonders, in our journey within the newly protected Monument expansion area, we saw hundreds of cattle, miles of fencing and forests in recovery from commercial logging.  Here again, our experience was different than Zinke’s. While we saw a place that is healing and in need of continued protection in order to fully recover, Zinke saw a lost opportunity for more commercial activity.  In fact, Zinke’s driving criticism of the Monument is that Monument protections do not well-serve commercial logging and grazing interests. Indeed, according to its establishing proclamation, the purpose of the Monument is to protect the “biological crossroads,” and the “spectacular variety of rare and beautiful species of plants and animals,” not to serve commercial interests.

Zinke’s assertion that we can somehow increase commercial activity and simultaneously protect biodiversity is ill-informed at best and intentionally misleading at worst.  The known destructive impacts of commercial logging on biologically sensitive areas are the exact reason why lands in the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument are protected from timber companies.  In addition, while there are still numerous commercial grazing allotments in the Monument expansion area, we also know that commercial grazing negatively impacts biological integrity. The findings of a 2008 Bureau of Land Management study decisively illustrate this point. The study, completed over the course of many years and using several key biological indicators, found that the proliferation of commercial grazing has created measurable adverse impacts to the native species and natural features of the Monument.

 In sum, we know that commercial logging and grazing are not compatible with protecting sensitive ecological areas. What Zinke does not seem to grasp is that you cannot simultaneously claim to protect a place and promote the very activities which have been shown to threaten it. 

In a time when biodiversity is collapsing at an unprecedented rate, the Cascade-Siskiyou is so incredibly precious. At  root here is a simple question: Do we value biological integrity in a special place like this enough to truly protect it? Thousands of Oregonians, including Oregon’s Governor and both of Oregon’s U.S. Senators, continue to answer that question with a resounding ‘yes.’ As he considers Zinke’s recommendations to shrink Cascade-Siskiyou and make it a “protected area” in name only, it remains to be seen whether Trump will respect Oregon’s top statewide elected leaders – and this very special place – or not.

For  more information about how to get involved to save the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, sign up for our e -news or visit Monuments for All. 





Press release: Gray wolves documented on Oregon’s Mt. Hood

For immediate release
January 16, 2018
Contact: Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today that two gray wolves have been documented on the Mt. Hood National Forest. A remote camera captured an image showing two wolves traveling together in southern Wasco County. Until now, only lone wolves have been documented dispersing through the area since they began migrating back into the state from Idaho in 2007.
Oregon is currently undergoing a gray wolf management plan revision, and conservation groups including Cascadia Wildlands are urging the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission to maintain protections for the species, especially in light of their recent population plateau. At the end of 2016, a minimum of 112 wolves were known to inhabit Oregon, an increase in only two wolves from the prior year. A recent wolf poaching spree has been documented in the state impacting the population.
Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands released the following statement:
“It is heartening to see gray wolves continuing to reoccupy historic territories across the Northwest after they were exterminated nearly a century ago. It also underscores the need to maintain safeguards for this unique species that continues to be under fire by special-interest groups and politicians.”
“The northern Oregon Cascades are wilder place with wolves back on the landscape, and it won’t be long before backcountry travelers get to experience the unforgettable howl of a wolf by the campfire on Mt. Hood. It is imperative that protections are upheld for the gray wolf as it continues its remarkable recovery in the region.”
Cascadia Wildlands has been working to recover gray wolves in the Pacific West through outreach, coalition work, litigation and policy creation since its founding in 1998.
A public domain, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife photo of the two wolves can be found here.

Reward Boosted to $20,000 in Search for Killer of Two Washington Wolves

For Immediate Release, December 11, 2017


Nick Cady, (314) 482-3746, nick@cascwild.org 

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495, ngreenwald@biologicaldiversity.org

Reward Boosted to $20,000 in Search for Killer of Two Washington Wolves

Groups Push for Increased Federal Law Enforcement

SEATTLE— The Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands today increased a reward to $20,000 for information leading to conviction in the killing of two wolves last month in northeast Washington. 

The groups also called for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to step up its law enforcement efforts to investigate poaching incidents in both Washington and Oregon.

“Poaching wolves or other wildlife is a deplorable crime,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “We need people to come forward and help put a stop to the killing of these endangered animals.”

The two wolves killed were part of the Smackout and Dirty Shirt packs. Information on their loss and a $10,000 reward was issued by another conservation group, Conservation Northwest, on Saturday. These killings follow the poaching of three other Oregon wolves over the past several months. Wolf populations in both Washington and Oregon remain small and poaching could have a serious impact on their continued recovery.

“Poaching represents a real threat to the recovery of wolves in Washington and elsewhere on the West Coast,” said Nick Cady, legal director with Cascadia Wildlands. “It’s time for federal and state law enforcement to meaningfully act and catch and prosecute these lawless poachers.”  

Following a government-sponsored campaign of poisoning, shooting and killing, wolves were wiped out from all lower 48 states except a small corner of northeast Minnesota. With protection under the Endangered Species Act, wolves have made a comeback in portions of their range. They began returning to Washington and Oregon in the past 10 years or so, now numbering between 100 and 150 animals in each state.       

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Cascadia Wildlands defends and restores Cascadia’s wild ecosystems in the forests, in the courts, and in the streets. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion. Join our movement today.


Press Release: Conservation Groups Boost Reward to $16,750 for Oregon Wolf-killer Amid Poaching Surge

For Immediate Release
November 8, 2017
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746, nick@cascwild.org
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org
Wally Sykes, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, (541) 263-2125, wally_sykes2000@yahoo.com
Quinn Read, Defenders of Wildlife, (503) 697-3222, qread@defenders.org
Scott Beckstead, Humane Society of the United States, (541) 530-8509, sbeckstead@humanesociety.org
Danielle Moser, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 x 226, dm@oregonwild.org
PORTLAND, Ore.— Conservation organizations are bolstering a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services reward for information on the illegal killing of OR-25, a federally protected gray wolf in southwestern Oregon. The Service has offered a $5,000 reward, and six conservation organizations have contributed an additional $11,750.
In the past two weeks alone, state and federal officials have announced the poaching deaths of wolves OR-25 and OR-33 near Fort Klamath and Klamath Falls, where wolves still have federal protection. In addition to these two kills, since state endangered species act protections were removed from Oregon wolves across the state in late 2015, at least an additional seven wolves have been poached or died under mysterious circumstances in Oregon.
At the time of state delisting, conservation groups warned the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission that scientific research shows removing protection from wolves, as well as increased wolf-killing by agencies or the public, decreases social tolerance for wolves and increases incidences of poaching.
“Wolves in Oregon are being gunned down maliciously after wildlife officials prematurely removed state-level protections for these misunderstood animals,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Whatever you think of wolves, poaching is wrong and cowardly. We hope someone steps forward with information leading to the killer’s prosecution.”
"Wolf poaching, surreptitious or flagrant, is a growing phenomenon in Oregon,” said Wally Sykes, cofounder of Northeast Oregon Ecosystems. “I hope the rewards now on offer for information identifying these people will bring results. Oregonians overwhelmingly value and respect wolves, but these criminals will kill them out of ignorance and malice."
“How many dead wolves will it take for Oregon to admit it has a poaching problem?” said Quinn Read, Northwest representative of Defenders of Wildlife. “The tragic killing of OR-25 makes at least nine wolves who have been poached or died under mysterious circumstances in the last two years. We need help to find the criminals responsible and make sure our state’s poaching laws are fully enforced.”
“The illegal killing of this federally protected Oregon gray wolf is a cowardly act of cruelty and waste, and we are grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for giving the case the serious attention it deserves,” said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon director at the Humane Society of the United States. “We are proud to contribute to the effort to bring the perpetrator to justice.”
“Here we go again,” said Danielle Moser, wildlife coordinator for Oregon Wild. “In the last two years, we have seen a surge in poaching of wolves. This coincides with Governor Brown and her staff working to successfully strip protections from this endangered species. It’s high time the governor did something to rein in ODFW and encourage OSP to aggressively pursue these investigations.”
"Despite massive public objection, the state has made countless efforts to accommodate commercial livestock interests by delisting wolves and shooting wolves all in the name of building 'social tolerance' in rural Oregon,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “Instead of building tolerance for wolves in these communities, it appears these efforts have only given social license to killing wolves in violation of the law."
Anyone with information about this case should call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (503) 682-6131 or Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.
OR-25 was found killed near Fort Klamath in the Sun Pass State Forest on Oct. 29. Details about this illegal killing, though not the precise cause of death, were released Nov. 6.
OR-25 was a 4.5-year-old male gray wolf who was collared in May 2014 and separated from the Imnaha pack in northeast Oregon in March 2015. Like famous wolf OR-7, also of the Imnaha pack, OR-25 made his way across Oregon into California, where he spent several weeks in December 2015 and January 2016 roaming in Modoc County, presumably in search of a mate. He returned to Oregon and had been living in the Klamath County area since that time.
Killing a gray wolf in the western two-thirds of Oregon is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. It is also a violation of Oregon state game laws and is subject to both criminal and civil penalties. The investigation of this crime is being conducted by the Oregon State Police and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The announcement of the poaching death of OR-25 arrives on the heels of the killing of another Oregon wolf last week by an elk hunter in the eastern part of the state, in Union County. The hunter has claimed the wolf was coming directly at him and that he killed the animal in self-defense, despite clear evidence the wolf was shot in the side on the midsection of its torso. Though the hunter’s story conflicts with the physical evidence, state and county officials are declining to press charges.
Link to a high resolution image of OR-25 available for media use.


Josh Laughlin
Executive Director
Cascadia Wildlands  –  we like it wild.
PO Box 10455 Eugene, OR 97440  –  541.434.1463

Cascadia Wildlands defends and restores Cascadia’s wild ecosystems in the forests, in the courts, and in the streets. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion. Join our movement today.


Press Release: House of Representatives Passes Horrific “Logging without Laws” Bill

For immediate release
November 1, 2017

Gabriel Scott, In-House Counsel, Cascadia Wildlands, 907.491.0856 / gscott@cascwild.org
Josh Laughlin, Executive Director, Cascadia Wildlands, 541.844-8182 / jlaughlin@cascwild.org
EUGENE, OR – The House of Representatives passed legislation today that will suspend environmental laws to open up previously protected old-growth and recreation areas to clearcut logging. The Orwellian-named “Resilient Federal Forests Act” (HR 2936) is an overwhelming assault on the nation’s public lands, waters, species and environmental laws.
“This is a profit-driven, timber industry initiative thinly disguised as restoration,” says Samantha Krop, Grassroots Organizer with Eugene-based Casadia Wildlands. “It guts our bedrock laws in order to clearcut public forests in a magnitude we have never seen before.”
While the bill is framed as a way to address forest fires, it does little to create more fire-resilient forests.  Instead, it is designed to boost logging levels on our National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands while sacrificing myriad bedrock environmental laws.  
“This bill is a fraud, and it is completely opposite to our hard-earned knowledge about fires on our forests,” says Gabriel Scott, In-House Counsel with Cascadia Wildlands. “This cynical betrayal of the public confirms our worst fears about national forest policy in this Congress under this Administration.”
Introduced by Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR), the bill is a gift to the timber industry. In only his second term in Congress, Westerman has received more campaign contributions from Big Timber than any other industry.
Specifically, the bill would:
•    Make millions of acres of currently protected areas—including endangered species habitat and other critically sensitive areas tied to these lands—vulnerable to harmful road building and logging. These targeted areas are some of the most popular outdoor recreation areas throughout the West.
•    Exempt commercial logging from requirements under the Endangered Species Act, in essence issuing a blank check for projects that would jeopardize imperiled species and their critical habitats.
•    Skirt public participation and review of logging projects that will affect communities in the Pacific Northwest.  H.R. 2936 cuts out meaningful public involvement and enables significant destruction of public lands and waters by waiving substantive environmental review for a broad range of harmful activities.  To put the sheer magnitude of these legal changes in perspective, currently only smaller logging projects are exempt from substantive environmental review under federal law.  H.R. 2936 increases the size of exempt projects to 30,000 acres.
Despite the bill’s proponents’ attempt to use this year’s fire season as an excuse for dramatically increased logging, leading scientists state that post-fire logging generally only further harms the ecosystem, undermines recovery, and increases fire risk. Through their slow decay, standing dead trees that remain after a fire provide the very nutrients needed to recover the landscape over the long haul. Post-fire logging involves cutting the large trees and leaves behind smaller trees and branches, and often involves planting dense rows of resinous saplings that can further increase fire risk.
Moreover, the bill diverts Secure Rural Schools Act funding from restoration activities to timber projects, and creates a state-based timber production program to facilitate logging. In essence, the bill takes money that would fund education in western states and funnels it to the timber industry.  
If enacted into law, the bill will set a dangerous precedent to erode cornerstone laws that protect the environment further jeopardizing clean water, imperiled species and climate security.
* An analysis of the bill’s implications can be found here.
* Letter from 71 groups opposing HR 2936 can be found here.
* Text of HR 2936 can be found here.

Marbled Murrelet Review Suggests Increased Protections!

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Status Review Demonstrates that Marbled Murrelet Urgently Needs Endangered Status

Marbled Murrelet -largeIn response to a petition from multiple conservation organizations, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has released a status review that demonstrates that the Marbled Murrelet warrants uplisting from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act and is seeking public comment.

“The Marbled Murrelet has been listed as threatened under the Oregon Endangered Species Act for more than two decades and during that time it has slipped closer and closer to extinction in our state,” said Nick Cady, Legal Director for Cascadia Wildlands. “It is critical that the state increase protections for this species right away if there is to be any hope of saving the Oregon population.”

The Department’s status review documents that the iconic seabird, which nests in old-growth and mature forests and forages at sea, is headed for extinction in Oregon if stronger measures are not taken. Oregon conservation groups are calling on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to uplist the Murrelet from threatened to endangered at their February 2018 meeting.

“While federal laws have stabilized habitat loss on federal lands, the State of Oregon has continued to allow logging of older forests at an alarming rate and failed to adequately address new threats to the species,” said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “Changing the Murrelet’s status to endangered will help ensure that Oregon takes the steps necessary to do its part to save this species.”

The report concludes the “key threats identified at the time of listing have continued or increased, and many new threats have been identified since the 1990’s….the life history exhibited by this species provides little opportunity for the population to rapidly increase even under the most optimal circumstances.” It also noted that the primary cause of Marbled Murrelet declines, loss and fragmentation of older forest habitat on which it depends for nesting, has “slowed, but not halted…since the 1990s” with  greatest losses since on lands managed by the State of Oregon. The review specifically notes that existing programs and regulation have “failed to prevent continued high rates of habitat loss on nonfederal lands in Oregon,”

If the Marbled Murrelet were uplisted from threatened to endangered in Oregon, the Department of Fish and Wildlife would be required to establish survival guidelines at the time of reclassification and a species management plan within 18-months.

“The Marbled Murrelet is the proverbial canary in the coal mine,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The species survival guidelines and management plan will help ensure the State of Oregon addresses not only loss of older forests but a whole array of other threats faced by Murrelets, such as energy development, oil spills, power lines and declining forage fish populations.”

“It’s time for Oregon to catch up with our neighbors,” said Danielle Moser, Wildlife Coordinator for Oregon Wild. “California and Washington have already uplisted the Murrelet from ‘threatened’ to ‘endangered’ at the state level, recognizing that more protections are needed to ensure the survival of this imperiled species.”

“The data presented by ODFW staff is clear – habitat loss on state lands is putting the marbled murrelet at the risk of extinction,” said Shawn Cantrell, Northwest Director for Defenders of Wildlife. “The only question for the Fish and Wildlife Commission is whether it will follow the science by changing the status of Marbled Murrelet to endangered in Oregon.”

The data in the review overwhelmingly supports uplisting the Marbled Murrelet to endangered status in Oregon,” said Rhett Lawrence of the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We urge the ODFW Commission to recognize the dire situation faced by the murrelet and the state forests on which they depend and move forward with this critically important step to save murrelets in Oregon.”

The conservation groups who initiated the petition to uplist the Marbled Murrelet in Oregon were Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild, Coast Range Forest Watch and Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club.



The Deja Vu of Killing Wolves

WOLF_OR17_odfw_Photo taken July 6 2013 of OR17 with a 2013 pup of the Imnaha pack. Subadult wolves assist in the raising of the pupsPhoto courtesy of ODFWby Nick Cady, Legal Director

Late last month, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that it would shoot up to four wolves in the Harl Butte pack.  Again. In August, following conflicts between wolves and livestock in the same area, the Department killed another four wolves from the same pack

The Harl Butte territory is no stranger to conflicts between wolves and livestock.  This is the same area formerly occupied by the Imnaha pack along the Imnaha River near Oregon's border with Idaho.  The Imnaha pack was wiped out last year by the Department, after numerous other kill orders over several years. 

It is important to keep in mind that the number of wolf/livestock conflicts remains incredibly low when compared to livestock animals lost to coyotes, cougars, and wild dogs. It shrinks to insignificance when compared to the number of animals that die from the weather, disease, traffic accidents, or good ole-fashioned cattle rustling.  Regardless, killing wolves remains the persistent agenda of numerous commercial lobbyist groups in the Pacific Northwest, and our Fish and Wildlife Departments all too often oblige.

It is also critical to remember that ranchers are getting compensated, at full market value, for any livestock they lose as long as they show they attempted to proactively reduce conflict between wolves and livestock.  That generous cash program is subject to ongoing investigations of questionable payments being made to some of these producers.

The State's wolf killing is designed to prevent future depredations, but we are experiencing livestock losses repeatedly in the same areas.  The same story is playing out in Washington, where the State has killed wolves three separate times at the behest of the same livestock producer in the same region. The question remains: Why are we forced to kill wolves in the same areas, again and again?

The Cattlemen's Associations contend it is because the wolves have developed a taste for beef and teach the ways of the burger to their pups.  But Oregon and Washington continue to wipe out entire packs. Depredations resume the next year when new wolves move into the vacated habitat.   

Oregon Wolf August 14It is not because beef is delicious that wolves are targeting cows. Pervasively across the West there are areas where wolves and livestock are in close proximity without conflicts. If wolves prefer beef, there would be conflicts any place where wolves and livestock interact. But this is not the case.

Instead, it appears to be a product of there being too many cattle on the landscape.  Rob Klavins, a close friend and employee for Oregon Wild, lives out in this Harl Butte/Imnaha area where he and is wife run the Barking Mad B&B (check it out if you're ever near Enterprise). He maintains a series of wildlife cameras on public lands where Harl Butte and Imnaha wolves were regularly seen. When talking with him about this recent kill order, he shared that in reviewing his tapes, of all the different wildlife that pops up on his motion activated cameras, well-over 90% are cows.  

Is it that wolves are eating cows because bovine are the only viable prey species left in that area?  When cattle are intensively grazed in the specific areas, they drive out the deer and elk that otherwise might comprise the majority of a wolf's diet. This also drives the herds of deer and elk down into agricultural lowlands, where they munch on farmers' fields. This can lead to frustrated farmers poaching loads of elk.  It seems likely there are simply too many cattle grazing in these particular areas during the grazing season, which is driving out other game.  

Now I know you are saying to yourself, "wait, commercial agriculture overusing a resource? This would never happen."  But just maybe this is what is occurring.

Regardless of why wolf-livestock conflict continues in these particular areas, shooting wolves in response to depredations simply is not a long-term solution. It is a money-pit and bad policy.  Every year our Fish and Wildlife Departments will continue to shoot wolves, spending tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars each kill order, in response to a few dead cows, only to see it recur time and time again.  

real niceAnd yet the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is going broke, or is already broke.  They increasingly rely on general fund taxpayer dollars. The Department is coming to the conservation community with its hat in its hand.  The conservation community works with the Department to recover habitat and protect non-game species that include many of the imperiled species in the state on the verge of extinction.  The conservation community wants to work with the Department on these species.

However, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spends 2% of its funding on non-game species, even though these comprise 88% of the species in the state. Only three of the agency's 1,200-person staff work on non-game species. Their requests for money remind me of  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, where cousin Eddie promises to get you something real nice with the Christmas gift money he borrows from you, but you know that gift is going to be a hastily dug trench filled with dead carnivores. 

It is past time for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and its Commission to deal with this issue in a direct manner, instead of bending like a willow to interest groups.  But this will not happen on its own! Oregon's wildlife needs strong leadership from Governor Kate Brown. She appoints the Fish and Wildlife Commission that makes the calls on these issues, and she needs to send a clear message to this floundering agency and its Commission.  

Give Governor Brown a call: (503) 378-4582. If you like wolves, tell her to stop killing them.  If you decry government waste and hate to watch the Department endlessly dump public money into a problem of its own creation that it has no intention of solving, give her a ring.  If you enjoy the film Christmas Vacation, let her know.  Governor Brown was just awarded the Environmental Champion of the Year Award by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Let's see if she will put her money where her mouth is.

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