Biological Status Review for the Gray Wolf in Oregon and Evaluation of Delisting Criteria

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April 24, 2015. Russ . Morgan. Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife. Purpose of This Briefing . To evaluate the biological status of wolves in Oregon and determine if significant information exists to justify rulemaking to delist the wolf under the Oregon ESA (OESA). ID: 718343 Download Presentation

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Biological Status Review for the Gray Wolf in Oregon and Evaluation of Delisting Criteria

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Biological Status Review for the Gray Wolf in Oregon and Evaluation of Delisting Criteria

April 24, 2015

Russ MorganOregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife


Purpose of This Briefing To evaluate the biological status of wolves in Oregon and determine if significant information exists to justify rulemaking to delist the wolf under the Oregon ESA (OESA)

ODFW, 4/2015


OverviewHistory, Oregon ESA, Wolf PlanBiological Status of WolvesEvaluation of OESA Delisting Criteria

ODFW, 4/2015


HistoryWolves were intentionally eradicated in OregonWolves mostly gone from Oregon by 1930’sLast Oregon wolf bounty paid in 1946

Soldiers Soda Butte Creek-Wolf Pelt YNP 1905

Public Domain

ODFW, 4/2015


Wolf Recovery

Reintroductions in neighboring states

Experts predicted wolves

would reestablish in Oregon


ODFW, 4/2015


Wolf PlanAdopted in 2005, updated in 2010Three-phased population approach to address both conservation and management needsPhase II prompts consideration of delisting from Oregon ESA

ODFW, 4/2015


Commission Principlesfor Wolf Plan Development in 2005

Write management plan based on “conservation” as required by State law

No active re-introduction of wolvesProvide relief for livestock producers from expected wolf depredationsAddress impacts to deer and elk populations

Flexibility in managing


while providing needed protections

ODFW, 4/2015


ODFW, 4/2015


Management Flexibility? Wolf Plan (Page 27)“After delisting and removal of ESA protections, if western Oregon has not met the conservation population objective, the Commission will continue to manage wolves in that area under a management regime that replicates Oregon ESA protections for individual wolves”

ODFW, 4/2015



Wolves established in NE Oregon in 2008, and annual counts began in 2009.Population increasing at a growth rate of 1.41 (2009-2014)77 wolves in 2014 in 15 known packs or groupsMinimum-observed count method

ODFW, 4/2015


ODFW, 4/2015


Reproduction and Survival8 successful breeding pairs in 20147 in east zone (all in NE Oregon)1 in west zone (southern Cascades)

Estimated pup survival rate of .61Within range of other reported pup survival values.Oregon uses minimum-observed pup counts, likely underestimates pup survival.

ODFW, 4/2015



16 collared-wolf dispersalsHalf left the state (emigrated)

Mean dispersal distance (n=10) was 90 MiODFW, 4/2015


ODFW, 4/2015


HabitatWolves are habitat generalists and use many land cover types if prey is availableWolves in Oregon use mostly forested areaSeasonal habitat shifts to open areas usually reflect prey distribution shiftsWolves use both private and public land, but to date most data locations and den sites have been on National Forest lands

ODFW, 4/2015


Healthy Wolves?Few diseases documented in Oregon wolves. Parvovirus documented in 2013 Mange not detected in Oregon

Lice detected on one wolf to dateODFW, 4/2015


Human-caused Mortality FactorsMost documented Oregon wolf deaths have been human-caused (2000-Present)Illegal take (5)ODFW control action (4)

Vehicle collision (1)Capture-related (1)ODFW, 4/2015


Criterion 1: Geography

(Page 10)

The species is not now (and is not likely in the foreseeable future to be) in danger of extinction in any significant portion of its range in Oregon

Evaluation of OESA Delisting Criteria

ODFW, 4/2015


What We ConsideredHistorical Range – Most of OregonContracted Range – Areas no longer suitable Potential Range – Where wolves could live (habitat, prey, human factors)Currently Occupied Range – Where wolves are now

Extinction Risk ODFW, 4/2015


ODFW, 4/2015

Potential Wolf Range


ODFW, 4/2015


ODFW, 4/2015



Conclusion for Criteria 1Current areas of known wolf activity include about 12% of the state’s potential wolf range

Wolves are represented over a large geographic area of OregonNothing is preventing wolves from occupying additional portions of the West ZoneObserved dispersal and movement patterns indicate connectivityWolves not likely to become extinct

ODFW, 4/2015


Criterion 2: Population Viability(Page 15) The species’ natural reproductive potential is not in danger of failure due to limited population numbers, disease, predation, or other natural or human-related factors affecting its continued existence.

ODFW, 4/2015


Population ModelIndividual based model using conservative inputs such as survival, emigration, territory establishment, immigration, human-caused mortality, and reproductionAssessed two measures of population viability – conservation-failure, and biological extinction

Validated model by comparing to count data. Results indicates our model is appropriately cautiousODFW, 4/2015


Model ResultsWolf population projected to increase at a minimum rate of 7% annuallyOverall probability of extinction is

lowBaseline Model: 6% probability of conservation-failure1% probability of biological extinctionNo simulations fell below conservation level when using Oregon observed data

ODFW, 4/2015


Important Model FactorsStarting population size is important in our model and risk of failure is highest in early yearsHuman caused mortality also important. Probability of failure was low when human-caused mortality rates (as implemented in our model) are

kept below .10ODFW, 4/2015


Criterion 2: Other Factors Considered DiseasePredationGenetic viabilityOther natural or human factorsHabitat connectivity

ODFW, 4/2015


ODFW, 4/2015


Conclusion for Criterion 2Population is low but increasing in abundance and distribution.Analysis predicts a growing wolf populationLow probability for population failure Rates of disease, predation, and human-caused mortality has been relatively low

Wolves are part of a larger population and no barriers to connectivity were identified. ODFW, 4/2015


Most populations are not undergoing imminent or active deterioration of range or primary habitatCriterion 3: Deterioration of Range or Habitat?

(Page 19)ODFW, 4/2015


Criterion 3: Range Deterioration?ODFW, 4/2015

Wolves were extirpated because of eradication effort, not because of range or habitat lossWolves are now expanding their range in OregonOccur in 4,858 Sq MiTwo geographic regions


Criterion 3: Habitat Deterioration?Human population increase not likely to affectWolves prefer forest cover, mountainous terrainFuture human growth is projected to occur in areas less suitable for wolves

Public land ownership – land use and forest protection regulationsPrey populations are highly regulated under other state plansODFW, 4/2015


Over-utilization of the species or its habitat for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is not occurring or likely to occurCriterion 4: Overutilization(Page 20)

ODFW, 4/2015


Criterion 4: OverutilizationProtective framework (Wolf Plan) does not change as a result of any delisting decisionCapture/collaring will continuePhase I-IIIDelisting does not allow any additional commercial, recreational, scientific activities.

Regulated forest management in OregonODFW, 4/2015


Criterion 5: Adequate Protection Programs(Page 22)

Existing state or federal programs or regulations are adequate to protect the species and its habitat.ODFW, 4/2015


Wolf PlanPhase II in East Zone (Phase III as early as 2017)Phase I in West ZoneFederal ESA

ODFW, 4/2015


Effects of DelistingNear term – little changeWolf Plan phases based on zone populationFederal ESAMost important when wolf population reaches Phase III

ODFW, 4/2015


Summary ConclusionsOregon wolves are healthy and the wolf population is increasing and is projected to continue to increaseThe likelihood of population failure is very low

Wolf range is expanding and is projected to continue to expand – wolves now occur in both east and west zonesThere are no known conditions which prevent connectivity between existing populations and currently unused habitatsThe Wolf Plan will continue to provide conservation and protections for wolves in Oregon

ODFW, 4/2015



ODFW, 4/2015


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