STATES CHRONICLE – Environmentalists disregard USDA’s idea of euthanizing gray wolves on behalf of Oregon wildlife officials. It is illegal to kill these animals since the federal agency did not yet analyze the environmental impacts. In the meantime, the USDA claims a lawsuit over the settlement known to be unwarranted. The USDA stated that Oregon could euthanize problematic wolves without federal approval.
Sean Martin, an attorney for the agency, said on February 16 during an argument in Oregon that this is a state program where the USDA is a player. In Eastern Oregon, gray wolves are no longer listed as a threatened species being protected by the Endangered Species Act. Nevertheless, their population in this area is still coordinated under a plan initiated by the state.
The Wildlife Service division of USDA killed two wolves in 2009 at the insistence of Oregon, triggering environmentalists to sue the agency. After closing a settlement deal, USDA decided to conduct an environmental analysis of the agreement regarding the lethal wolf removal. The deal was settled between USDA and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Back in 2014, the assessment of USDA concluded that its wolf control activities did not pose a significant threat to the environment. However, five environmental teams had challenged the finding in court last year. The list of environmental groups consisted of Project Coyote, Predator Defense, Wildearth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands.
The petitioners asked Michael McShane, the US District Judge, to forbid Wildlife Services to euthanize wolves in Oregon due to the environmental analysis developed by the USDA which violated the National Environmental Policy Act. John Mellgren, an attorney for the environmental groups, argued that USDA did not oversee the impact of wolves’ euthanizing on the ecosystem and population of this species.
Mellgren also pointed out that reducing predation by euthanizing wolves did not prove to be effective in the long run. That is why this strategy needs a greater degree of criticism before acting upon the matter. The examination developed by USDA did not consider the perturbation to avoid structure from lethal wolf removal, neglecting actions which were taken against wolves in other neighboring states.
The complainants also stated that Wildlife Services would remove wolves by using a more efficient method than wildlife managers in Oregon.
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