PORTLAND, Ore. - A majority of Oregonians believe hunting wolves is no way to manage them and that the species still deserves endangered species protections, according to a new poll conducted by Mason Dixon Polling and Research.
More than 70 percent of Oregon voters who responded said nonlethal prevention methods should be attempted before officials are allowed to kill wolves.
Two-thirds said wolves don't pose such an economic threat to the cattle industry that killing them is required.
Arron Robertson, communications coordinator for the conservation group Oregon Wild, said proposed changes to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission's wolf conservation plan could make it easier to kill wolves.
"What are the conditions in which the agency essentially deputizes hunters to go out and do wildlife management?" he asked. "And what we found in this poll was that Oregonians disapproved of the kind of management tools that the agency was proposing."
Respondents to the poll spanned the political spectrum, and 30 percent came from rural Oregon.
The poll was conducted at the end of September. As of the end of 2015, the commission said there were about 110 wolves in Oregon.
According to the poll, 63 percent disagree with the state's removal of endangered species protections for Oregon's wolves.
Robertson's group, along with the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands, are challenging this decision in court, saying the science behind the decision is flawed.
"There were a number of scientists that commented that the science wasn't rigorous enough and they had a number of concerns and those concerns were never addressed because there was no revision," Robertson stressed. "So the decision, which was based on a report that was never peer-reviewed, was in violation of Oregon law."
Last Friday, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission held a meeting open to the public in La Grande on proposed changes to the state's wolf management plan, and will hold another meeting on Dec. 2 in Salem.