The Oregon Court of Appeals dismissed a gray wolf delisting
lawsuit Wednesday, citing a change in state law that blocked
Conservation groups Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological
Diversity and Oregon Wild sued the Oregon Department of Fish and
Wildlife after its removal of the gray wolf from the Oregon
Endangered Species List at the end of 2015.
At the time, the state’s wolves had established the minimum
number of packs for officials to consider removing endangered
species status and protections. But the conservation groups
claimed the Department of Fish and Wildlife did not use the best
available science to make the decision.
“It was like a novel, first-time creation that hadn’t been peer
reviewed, and there was a lot of gaping, very obvious defects,”
Cascadia Wildland Legal Director Nick Cady said.
The Court of Appeals cited legislation from 2016, House Bill
4040, as a reason to dismiss the case. The bill, which Brown
signed into law despite criticism from environmentalists,
blocked judicial review of the decision to remove gray wolves
from the state endangered species list.
“We didn’t lose that case on the merit, we lost that case
because the legislature and the governor signed a bill that
basically condoned the delisting,” Center for Biological
Diversity’s Noah Greenwald said.
Greenwald said it was premature to delist the gray wolves at the
time, and now there’s approximately 140 gray wolves and a few
packs on the west side of Oregon.
Oregon Wild’s Arran Robertson said his group is disappointed but
not surprised by the outcome.
“What ODFW did was illegal and did not use peer-reviewed, best
available science in making its decision to remove Oregon’s
wolves from the state endangered species list. The retroactive
actions of Governor Brown and the Oregon legislature do not
change that reality, though it does set a dangerous precedent
for Salem politicians undermining science,” Robertson said.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said it in an emailed
statement that it was pleased with the lawsuit’s dismissal. The
department said Oregon’s wolf population continues to grow and
expand in range since delisting them in 2015.
The Oregon Farm Bureau and the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association
called the lawsuit’s dismissal a huge win for ranch families and
the livestock industry, which have long pushed to limit
protections for wolves, which sometimes prey on cattle and
Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon
Wild have not decided if they will seek a challenge to
Wednesday’s decision in the Oregon Supreme Court.
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