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Gray Wolves No Longer Endangered in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (CN) - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife voted Monday to remove gray wolves from the state endangered species list, opening the door to possible future hunting of the recently reintroduced predator.

Last month, Fish and Wildlife biologists briefed the commission on the expansion of the wolf population in Oregon. Biologists confirmed the existence of four breeding pairs of gray wolves in eastern Oregon - the trigger in state guidelines for the commission to reevaluate wolves' status.

Oregon's last native wolf was killed for a bounty in 1946. Gray wolves migrated across the Idaho border and back into Oregon for the first time in 2009. Last year, biologists documented 81 wolves and 10 wolf packs in the state.

The commission voted 4-2 in favor of delisting gray wolves. Commissioner Greg Wolley voted against delisting and Commissioner Laura Anderson voted against delisting with the caveat that she did support delisting, but only in the eastern part of the state.

Other commissioners said they would prefer to limit delisting to eastern Oregon, but the state's Endangered Species Act does not allow for that action.

The commission said it would request that the Legislature change the law to allow delisting in specific parts of the state and also that the penalty for illegally killing a gray wolf be increased to $6,250 and one year in jail.

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