The Blue Mountain eagle. (John Day, Or.) 1972-current, April 13, 2016, Page A8, Image 8

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Blue Mountain Eagle
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Death of OR-4 a sobering turn for Oregon’s wolf plan
renews debate
over managing
By Eric Mortenson
EO Media Group
They called him OR-4,
and by some accounts he was
Oregon’s biggest and baddest
wolf, 97 pounds of cunning
in his prime and the longtime
alpha male of Wallowa Coun-
ty’s inluential Imnaha Pack.
But OR-4 was nearly 10,
old for a wolf in the wild. And
his mate limped with a bad
back leg. Accompanied by
two yearlings, they apparently
separated from the rest of the
Imnaha Pack or were forced
out. In March, they attacked
and devoured or injured
calves and sheep ive times in
private pastures.
So on March 31, Oregon
Department of Fish and Wild-
life staff boarded a helicopter,
rose up and shot all four.
The decisive action by
ODFW may have marked a
somber turning point in the
state’s work to restore wolves
to the landscape. It comes on
the heels of the ODFW Com-
mission’s decision in Novem-
ber 2015 to take gray wolves
off the state endangered spe-
cies list, and just as the com-
mission is beginning a review
of the Oregon Wolf Plan, the
Courtesy of ODFW
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists
place a new working GPS collar on OR-4, the
Imnaha wolf pack’s alpha male, after darting him
from a helicopter on March 28, 2012.
document that governs wolf
conservation and manage-
Oregon Wild, the Port-
group with long involvement
in the state’s wolf issue, said
shooting wolves should be an
“absolute last resort.”
“While the wolf plan is out
of date and under review, we
shouldn’t be taking the most
drastic action we can take in
wolf management,” Execu-
tive Director Sean Stevens
said in an email.
The commission should
not have taken wolves off the
state endangered species list
in the irst place, but it isn’t
likely to revisit that decision,
Stevens said.
The commission should
call upon the department to
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not shoot more wolves until
the plan review is inished, he
“But, more importantly,
they should recognize that
de-listing does not mean that
we should suddenly swing
open the doors to more ag-
gressive management,” Ste-
vens said.
The ongoing wolf plan
review, which may take nine
months, should include sci-
ence that wasn’t considered in
the delisting decision, and the
public’s will, he said. It also
should create more clarity on
non-lethal measures to deter
wolves, he said.
Publicly, at least, no one is
celebrating the shootings.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s
Association, long on the op-
posite side of the argument
from Oregon Wild, said
ODFW’s action was autho-
rized by Phase II of the state’s
wolf plan.
“The problem needed ad-
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By Paris Achen
Capital Bureau
PORTLAND — Gov. Kate
Brown used her state-of-the-
state address Friday to claim a
series of social, economic and
environmental achievements
during her irst full year in of-
Calling it “a watershed year
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for Oregon,” she recounted to a
crowd of about 500 at the City
Club of Portland that the state
had passed several irst-in-the-
nation laws. Those policies
ban the sale of coal-powered
electricity, automatically reg-
ister people to vote, set a tiered
minimum wage and allow the
sale of birth control without a
She compared the new pol-
icies to the legacy of former
Gov. Tom McCall, known for
his leadership in passing land-
mark land-use planning laws
in 1973.
“I think that these irst-ever
achievements over the past 14
months would have made Gov.
McCall very proud,” Brown
She also committed to pro-
posing a transportation plan
during the 2017 legislative
session. That echoed a promise
she made in her irst state-of-
the-state address in April 2015
to make transportation one of
her top priorities, but she later
delayed that plan.
She called her ascension
from secretary of state to the
state’s highest ofice in Feb-
ruary 2015 “unexpected.” As
secretary of state, she auto-
matically succeeded Gov. John
Kitzhaber when he resigned
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Designed by the Blue Mountain Eagle
parts that are not working.”
Politics and policy aside,
the shooting of OR-4 gave
people pause. He was a big-
ger-than-life character; he’d
evaded a previous ODFW kill
order and had to be re-collared
a couple times as he somehow
shook off the state’s effort to
track him.
OR-4’s Imnaha Pack was
the state’s second oldest, des-
ignated in 2009, and it pro-
duced generations of success-
ful dispersers. OR-4’s many
progeny included Oregon’s
best-known wanderer, OR-7,
who left the Imnaha Pack in
2011 and zig-zagged his way
southwest into California be-
fore settling in the Southern
Oregon Cascades.
OR-25, which killed a calf
in Klamath County and now
is in Northern California, dis-
persed from the Imnaha Pack.
The alpha female of the Shasta
Pack, California’s irst, is from
the Imnaha Pack as well.
Rob Klavins, who lives in
Wallowa County and is Ore-
gon Wild’s ield representative
in the area, ran across OR-4’s
tracks a couple times and saw
him once.
Despite his fearsome repu-
tation, the wolf tucked his tail
between his legs, ran behind
a nearby tree and barked at
Klavins and his hiking group
until they left.
“Killing animals four or
ive times your size is a tough
way to make a living,” Klavins
said. “Some people appreciate
OR-4 as a symbol of the te-
nacity of wolves, even a lot of
folks who dislike wolves have
sort of a begrudging respect
for him.”
Brown delivers second state-of-the-state address
Karen Triplett, FNP
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dressed and ODFW handled it
correctly,” spokeswoman Kay-
li Hanley said in an email. “We
acknowledge that while this
decision was necessary for the
sake of species coexistence, it
was a dificult decision.”
Michael Finley, chair of the
ODFW Commission, said the
department handled the situa-
tion properly.
“I feel that the department
acted in total good faith,” Fin-
ley said. “They followed the
letter and the spirit of the wolf
group, Defenders of Wildlife,
called the shootings “a very
sad day for us” but also said it
appeared ODFW followed the
wolf plan.
“The inal plan is a compro-
mise, but it is among the best of
all the state plans in that it em-
phasizes the value of wolves
on the landscape, and requires
landowners to try non-lethal
methods of deterring wolves
before killing them is ever
considered,” the group said in
a prepared statement.
Amaroq Weiss, West
Coast wolf organizer for the
Center for Biological Diver-
sity, said the Imnaha Pack
shootings may lead to more
poaching, because killing
wolves decreases tolerance
of them and leads to a belief
that “you have to kill wolves
in order to preserve them.”
Weiss agreed that coming
across a calf or sheep that’s
been torn apart and consumed
— the skull and hide was all
that was left of one calf after
the OR-4 group fed on it —
must be gut-wrenching for
producers. But she said those
animals are raised to be killed
and eaten. “They don’t die
any more a humane death in
a slaughterhouse than being
killed by a wild animal,” she
said. “It’s a hard discussion to
ind a common place of agree-
She said such losses are the
reason Oregon established the
compensation program: to pay
for livestock losses and to help
with the cost of defensive mea-
sures that scare wolves away.
Weiss said Oregon rushed
to move to Phase II of its wolf
conservation and management
plan in the eastern part of the
state, which was prompted by
reaching a population goal of
four breeding pairs for three
consecutive years. That also
prompted the ODFW Com-
mission to take wolves off the
state endangered species list in
2015, although they remain on
the federal endangered list in
the western two-thirds of the
Like others, Weiss believes
the state should have held off
on such changes until it in-
ished the mandated review of
the wolf plan.
“Under Phase I, Oregon
was the state we could all
point to” for successfully
managing wolves, Weiss
said. “I would hope they look
at what parts of the wolf plan
are working, and look at the
that same month over an inlu-
ence-peddling scandal involv-
ing his iancée, Cylvia Hayes.
Brown said she has since
strived to enhance government
She cited new policies that
require lobbyists to disclose
whom they represent with-
in three days of hiring, and
changes to ethics laws that in-
crease penalties for knowingly
using public ofice for private
However, the Pamplin Me-
dia/EO Media Group Capital
Bureau recently reported that
meaningful public records re-
form, such as deadlines and fee
limits for responding to public
record, has failed to progress
since Brown took ofice. She
also failed to follow through
on a plan to create a public
records advocate to help the
public with public record deni-
als, but she repeated her plan
to propose legislation to create
that position in 2017.
Brown described other
accomplishments as invest-
ing $70 million in addressing
the state’s housing shortage,
boosting funding for higher
education and early childhood
education and subsidizing col-
lege tuition with the Oregon
Opportunity Grant.
She offered few speciics on
policy proposals for the com-
ing year. In addition to offer-
ing a transportation package,
she repeated her commitment
to improve the state’s gradua-
tion rate – one of the worst in
the nation. She recently creat-
ed a new position of education
innovation oficer to develop
a strategy to accomplish that
goal and plans to hire for the
position in the next couple of
Senate Republican Lead-
er Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day)
released the following state-
ment following Governor
Kate Brown’s second state-
of-the-state address held at
the Portland City Club:
“In February, Gover-
nor Brown and Democrat
leadership failed to do the
one thing Oregonians were
counting on: take meaning-
ful steps toward restoring
transparency and account-
ability to state government.
Governor Brown promised
in her inaugural State of the
State to overhaul Oregon’s
public records system and
strengthen Oregon’s ethics
laws. She has failed, just
like she failed to deliver a
package in 2015. She and
her Democrat colleagues
failed to address critical
missteps by state agencies
resulting in high costs for
taxpayers and the loss of
trust in government services
like our foster care sys-
tem. Instead, the Governor
is praising her Democrat
colleagues for back room
deals that resulted in a slew
of new mandates costing
small businesses and work-
ing families. How long will
Oregon voters allow their
leaders to say one thing and
do another? Oregonians de-
serve more than lip service.
The reign of one-party rule
in Oregon needs to come to
an end before the quality of
life we all value disappears.”
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