Options for Recovery of The Gray Wolf

By Ana Sanchez

Wolf Management Zones

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state has been divided into two zones, the east and west zones. These zones have separate but equal population objectives because the vast majority of wolf populations in Oregon reside in the eastern zone. According to the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, this distinction provides “the flexibility needed to manage increasing wolf numbers in eastern Oregon while encouraging conservation in western Oregon. This approach also ensures connectivity to other populations of wolves in Idaho and Washington, an important factor in achieving conservation of wolves in all of Oregon”.  

The Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan 

The population objectives set forth in the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan involve three management phases. The first phase is the “Conservation Phase” which involves working towards reaching the goal of maintaining four breeding pairs of wolves for three consecutive years for the east and west Zones. The second phase, “Transition Phase”, is for wolves who have completed phase one but do not meet the qualifications for phase three. The final phase, titled “Management Phase”, can begin once there are seven breeding pairs of wolves in a zone for three consecutive years. This management plan will be maintained until the population objective is met (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife). In the end, the plan will have reached a total of 8.4 packs in Oregon with a number of 49-89 wolves in packs. These population estimates do not include lone wolves or other (non-breeding) pairs which could add an additional 10-15% to population estimates. Furthermore, the eastern zone has reached phase three, while the western zone has not yet reached phase two. 

Requirements For Continued Conservation of Gray Wolves

The continued conservation of wolves is highly dependent on identifying threats that may decrease the wolf population in the long term. According to the Oregon department of Fish and Wildlife, monitoring these threats include: 

Collared gray wolf to help track wolf packs
  • Tracking human-caused mortality rates.
  • Collecting and analyzing genetic samples to track wolf genetic diversity.
  • Monitoring wolf habitat use by using radio collared wolves to track pack locations. 
  • Identify emerging or endemic diseases that could “depress wolf populations or affect humans, wildlife, or domestic animals” (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife).
  • Assess human attitudes towards the wolf populations in Oregon and the effects these attitudes may have on wolf conservation and management. 

Works Cited:

United States, Congress, Wildlife Division. Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2019, pp. 18–20.

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