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Oregon's Wolf Delisting Challenged in Court

December 30, 2015

Oregon’s controversial decision to take gray wolves off the state’s endangered species list is headed to court.

Three environmental groups filed a legal challenge of the decision Wednesday under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild claims the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife violated its own laws by failing to use the best available science and prematurely removing protections for Oregon’s 81 gray wolves.

When Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission removed wolves from the state endangered list in November, eastern Oregon ranchers cheered the decision and environmental advocates indicated they would challenge the decision.

Wolves occupy an estimated 12.4 percent of their potential range in Oregon, according to the state’s fish and wildlife agency. The legal challenge claims that is too small of a percentage for wolves to be considered recovered.

The environmental groups also take issue with the state’s scientific review of its wolf population analysis. They say many outside scientists were critical of the agency’s decision, yet the agency relied more on the largely positive feedback from the few scientists it hand-picked to review its work.

“The state didn’t just ignore the best available science, they preferentially treated statements from scientists that supported their predetermined decisions over those that were critical,” Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild said.

A spokeswoman with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife declined to comment on the legal challenge.

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Gray wolves are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in the eastern two-thirds of Washington State.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife