The commission’s final decision was influenced by a small but belligerent lobby of trophy hunters and trappers, and built on exaggerated claims about livestock conflict. Photo by Nathan Hobbs/iStock.com

Oregon has just made it easier for trophy hunters and trappers to go after the state’s small population of wolves.

In a move strenuously opposed by scientists, environmentalists and animal protection groups, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday updated its Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, opening the door for the trophy hunting of wolves in areas of the state where they are no longer protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

There are just 137 known wolves in Oregon. The population is still in a fragile state of recovery after decades of indiscriminate hunting and trapping that had essentially wiped out Oregon’s wolf population. It was only 10 years ago that the first wolf returned to the state. Making it easier to kill these gorgeous American native carnivores at this time makes no scientific sense and it could very well drive them once more to the point of extirpation.

The commission’s final decision was influenced by a small but belligerent lobby of trophy hunters and trappers, and built on exaggerated claims about livestock conflict. The major cause of livestock mortality in Oregon and elsewhere ​come from illness, birthing and weather problems and theft. In fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show that wolves were responsible for only 0.04 percent of cattle and sheep losses in the Northern Rocky Mountain states, including Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, in 2014 and 2015. An analysis of this data by HSUS researchers earlier this year showed that even these small numbers were highly exaggerated by the USDA.

The best available science shows that native carnivores like wolves keep ungulate herds healthy by removing the sick, weak, and old animals. They rarely prey upon the prime-age breeding animals favored by hunters. Yet, the plan also ​falsely asserts that killing wolves boosts deer and elk populations. On the other hand, as I recently wrote in a blog, keeping wolves in their native ecosystems maintains …

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