Update: In late April, two of the more extreme anti-wolf bills listed below (HB 3561 and HB 3563) died in the House Agriculture Committee after multiple hearings, but no committee vote. However, the Oregon House passed passed HB 3562 (51-7), which would allow people to kill wolves in ‘self defense,’ which could encourage poaching, while playing into unrealistic fears that wolves pose a threat to humans. HB 3562 ultimately died in the Senate in May without a hearing. And as noted below, a conflict reduction and wolf depredation compensation bill supported by the Sierra Club (HB 3560) is on track for passage. HB 3560 creates a fund to help pay for efforts to reduce wolf/livestock conflict, while compensating ranchers for livestock proven to have been killed by wolves. Such a program is an important step in ensuring the success of Oregon’s wolf management plan.
Here is a list of the full scope of bills that have been under consideration in the Oregon Legislature this year that would roll back protections for Oregon’s wolves. HB 3561 lowers by half the number breeding pairs across the state that would trigger taking the wolf off the state’s threatened species list under the Oregon Wolf Management Plan. SB 583 would remove wolves from the Oregon’s threatened species list and prevent the State Fish and Wildlife Commissioner from re-listing the wolf in the future if current populations drop. HB 3562 would allow a person to kill a wolf in ‘self-defense.’ Because wolves pose no credible threat to humans and because the Endangered Species Act and state law already allow this in the extremely unlikely event of a wolf attack on humans, HB 3562 could embolden poachers or lead to people killing Oregon’s limited wolves out of fear, despite any imminent or realistic threat. With fewer than 25 wolves currently living in Oregon, and Congressional action to remove wolves from the endangered species list, the Oregon legislature should not be making it easier to poach or kill wolves. HB 3563 would allow a person to kill a wolf it is within 500 feet of their home or if it is chasing livestock or working animals. All of these bills would mark a major step backwards from the compromise Oregon Wolf Management Plan and would threaten Oregon’s slowly recovering wolf population. There are likely fewer than 30 wolves living in Oregon, and there are only two known established wolf packs, both living in the northeast corner of the state. The Sierra Club opposes all of the above listed bills.
HB 3013 and HB 3560 both create a state compensation program for livestock lost due to wolf depredation. The Sierra Club supports this concept, and ultimately, HB 3560 was amended to create a reasonable compensation program. On June 17, the Ways and Means committee began taking action on HB 3560, with passage likely before the end of session.