The hunt for wolves in Northeast Oregon is – for all practical purposes – on permanent hold as federal officials begin the job of studying how the hunt will impact the state’s small population of gray wolves.
Dan Kruse of Cascadia Wildlands says his group received a letter from USDA Wildlife Services, the agency that was assigned the job of killing two members of the Imnaha pack in Wallowa County.
He says Wildlife Services has agreed to voluntarily hold off hunting until it completes an Environmental Assessment, one of the steps called for under the National Environmental Policy Act.
On May 31, ODFW authorized USDA Wildlife Services to kill two uncollared wolves of the 10-member Imnaha pack. The two wolves were responsible for six confirmed livestock losses and one probable depredation that occurred between May 5 and June 4.
On July 2, after a lawsuit was filed against U.S. Wildlife Services by Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and the national Center for Biological Diversity, USDA Wildlife Services agreed to hold off on plans to kill wolves.
Wildlife Services agreed to pull their traps for 30 days.
Now those 30 days are up and it is unknown how Wildlife Services will proceed.
The same conservation groups sued ODFW on July 12.
For now, ranchers and ODFW are concentrating on non-lethal measures to control wolves. The wolves have moved out of the valley and have been in the timber since the second week of June.