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State and conservation groups reach settlement on wolf kills

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has reached a settlement agreement over a legal challenge to its wolf-killing program with Oregon Wild, other conservationists and the livestock industry.

A coalition of environmental groups sued in October 2011, charging that the state’s actions against endangered gray wolves were violating the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the state’s Wolf Plan adopted in 2005.

"This settlement will put in place, for the first time, clear standards and public accountability for what must happen before ODFW or livestock interests can kill an endangered wolf, and measures that should reduce conflict between wolves and livestock,” says Dan Kruse, an attorney for Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands.

The deal comes after 17 months of negotiations involving Gov. John Kitzhaber, ODFW, environmental and ranching industry leaders.

"This agreement gets us back to the wolf plan we thought we had in 2005," says Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands legal director. "Under this agreement, killing wolves should be an option of last resort,” Cady says. “Ranchers need to do their part to improve animal husbandry and coexist with native wildlife, and ODFW needs to live up to its mission to ensure abundant populations of native wildlife for all Oregonians."