Even though Oregon has fewer than 90 wolves who occupy just a small portion of their historical range there, its Fish and Wildlife Commission this week removed them from the state's list of endangered species. This administrative action clears away one key barrier to a trophy-hunting and commercial-trapping season on wolves in Oregon, and it's an act that speaks more about politics than science or sound management. It's the second recent adverse action against predators approved by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission, which not long ago dramatically expanded cougar killing on over 6,000 square miles of Oregon lands.
Oregon's wildlife commissioners are not alone in displaying retrograde attitudes toward native carnivores, buying into the irrational and overstated rhetoric of some ranchers and trophy hunters that wolves and cougars are a threat to cattle herds, wild elk and deer, and even people. It's a problem in other states as well.
Yet the reality is, wolves rarely kill cattle, and they remove the sick and weak deer and elk, unlike human hunters who often seek out the biggest and best specimens. Wolves and cougars are important for maintaining healthy ecosystems, and scientific literature is loaded with evidence to support that contention.