Officials react to de-listing of gray wolves

Jackson Co., Or.- Gray wolves are losing their endangered species protections.

The U.S Department of Interior announced today the official de-listing of the animal from the endangered species list. Local and state authorities will be in charge of managing their wolf populations individually.

“It is the recognition that the persistence of the species is not as threatened as it once was,” said Jackson County Commissioner Bob Strosser, who works with Jackson County’s Wolf Advisory Committee.  He says the delisting of the gray wolf from the endangered species list is a good thing.

It shifts regulatory powers out of the federal government’s hands.

“The idea of returning management or control back to state and tribal officials would be something that would be looked on very favorably,” Strosser said.

U.S. Representative Greg Walden, who like commissioner Strosser is a republican, said he approves. In a statement, he said the change allows for a more streamlined management of gray wolves. He authored a bill to remove gray wolves from the list in the U.S. House in 2016.

Wolves occupy about 15% of the area they once roamed, but federal officials argue that’s enough for them to not be under imminent threat.

“There is a reason to believe the wolves are expanding and we are getting reports from the public in different areas,” said Steve Niemela from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. ODFW organized meetings to help ranchers deal with the rising wolf population in the region last fall.

“No matter what options are tried to do anything that is nonlethal, they are intelligent and they learn quickly,” Strosser explained. He says more options are a good things for Oregonians to defend themselves and their property against wolves.

“The ability to interact will be greatly enhanced. You wont have to go all the way to dc or officials there to be able to take action or do something,” the commissioner said.

Commissioner Strosser and the Jackson County Wolf Advisory Committee met tonight to discuss the decision. They tell NBC5 News it will take about 60 days for the de-listing to go into effect if there are no injunctions against it.

But Governor Kate Brown doesn’t agree with the change. A statement from the governor’s office said:

“In Oregon, we have a wolf recovery plan that is based on science. That plan is working well, compensating ranchers who lose animals while helping to restore the full biodiversity of Oregon and bring back a wolf population that was brought to the brink of extinction by the management policies of the last century. The development of Oregon’s wolf recovery plan involved many hours of public participation so we could painstakingly balance stakeholder needs. A significant part of that plan relies on federal protection across Western states. The science for wolf population management in the U.S. has not changed. The timing of these proposed changes to federal wolf protections is suspect, and needlessly politicizes this issue. Our wolf recovery plan is working in Oregon—we don’t need the federal administration to fix something that isn’t broken.”

Grace Smith is co-anchor for NBC5 News at 6. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl. Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it's the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.
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