SAN FRANCISCO—(ENEWSPF)–December 4, 2015. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has released a draft plan for managing the state’s wolf population as it expands and addressing conflicts with livestock interests and hunters. Recognizing that the wolf is protected under both the state and federal endangered species acts, the plan released late Wednesday emphasizes nonlethal means for addressing conflicts, but specifies that the state will seek to remove protections and allow killing of wolves after the population reaches the low threshold of just 50 to 75 animals.
“We support the plan’s initial emphasis on conservation and management of wolves using nonlethal tools and strategies, but we’re quite concerned about how quickly the plan would allow wolves to be killed,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Science shows that nonlethal deterrence methods are more effective at protecting livestock than killing wolves. We’d like to see the state stick with these proven methods.”
After the wolf known as OR-7 dispersed from Oregon in late 2011, the department drafted the wolf plan with input from a stakeholder group representing conservation, ranching and sports-hunting interests. OR-7 eventually returned to Oregon, where he found a mate and has since sired two sets of pups. In August of this year, however, the department confirmed the establishment of the state’s first wolf family in nearly a century, in Northern California’s Siskiyou County. Dubbed the Shasta pack, and consisting of two adults and five pups, the wolf family’s presence in the state makes the draft plan’s release all the more important.
The plan proposes a phased management approach, where after establishment of five wolf packs the state will consider more aggressive management to respond to conflicts. After establishment of nine packs, consisting of just 50 to 75 wolves, the state will seek to remove endangered species protections. The plan fails to explain why such a small, fragile population should have protections removed, simply citing other states that adopted similar approaches.
“We’re pleased the draft plan has been issued and that the public will have a chance to weigh in,” said Weiss, who was a member of the stakeholder advisory group. “But we disagree with the proposal to weaken protections before wolves have truly recovered in California.”
The department is taking written comments on the draft and will hold three public meetings in late January and early February in Yreka, Sacramento and Long Beach.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.