|Here's a report from the Associated Press of interest to hunters in California and Oregon.
Animal last seen in state in 1924
A national wildlife organization is trying to keep federal protections for gray wolves pending their return to their historic habitat in Northern California and Southwestern Oregon.
The group Defenders of Wildlife is hoping to get the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to keep the wolves, last seen in California in 1924, on the endangered-species list. The service is considering reclassifying them, taking them off the list and ending federal protections for the animals.
The group was to file a petition today outlining reasons for keeping the protections in place for any wolves that would wander from Idaho into the Northern California/Southwestern Oregon area, which could support up to 500 wolves. The group has done the same for wolves that might arrive in the southern Rocky Mountains, which could support up to 2,000.
Reintroduction of wolves would speed up the establishment of a population in California, rather than waiting for them to meander from Idaho through Oregon into California. But the group is pushing for protections for wolves that would possibly arrive rather than for reintroduction of a set population in order to provide time to address concerns, said Bob Ferris, vice president of species conservation for Defenders of Wildlife.
"We want to go about this sort of thing in a very measured way," Ferris said. "This is serious business and it has profound ramifications. We want to look at it in a well-reasoned manner and give people an opportunity to have a say."
The USFWS has not seen the petition and cannot comment, spokesman Patricia Foulk said.
Gray wolves became endangered after years of being poisoned, shot and trapped by ranchers who wanted to stop them from killing livestock.
Jack King, manager of the national affairs division of the California Farm Bureau Federation, said he is against enhancing protections for the wolves but will support the USFWS's eventual decision.
"We feel that in a state such as California where you have people and livestock, any action to encourage the further spread of the wolf would certainly meet with conflict," King said.
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