A pack with pups was confirmed in July 2008 in northeastern Washington, representing the first fully documented breeding by wolves in the state since the 1930s. A year later, gray wolves marked their return to Oregon when the first pack was officially recognized in northeastern part of the state. Over the next decade, wolves began to return to their historical territory and slowly disperse to other parts of the Pacific Northwest and California. The population is on an upward trend, but anti-wolf sentiments that threaten wolves’ continued recovery still run high.
Defenders works closely with a wide variety of partners – state fish and wildlife agencies and commissions, elected officials, ranchers, recreationists, activists, and other conservation organizations – to advocate for policies and practices that will ensure continued wolf recovery. Washington has begun the process to update its wolf plan in anticipation of wolf delisting and Defenders is already working hard to make sure that the plan is based on the best available science and prioritizes nonlethal methods of reducing wolf-livestock conflicts.
We complement our policy work by working directly with communities sharing the landscape with wolves. Defenders seeks to engage new and diverse audiences in our coexistence work, and we convene workshops with community partners to share information about wolf-livestock conflict deterrence methods and to facilitate meaningful and transformative conversations about coexistence. We also provide direct assistance in wolf-livestock conflict hotspots by working with landowners to assess their needs and install and maintain a variety of conflict deterrence tools.
The Blue Mountain Wolf Project is an active wolf and livestock coexistence demonstration model in northeast Oregon that employs sheepherders from Peru. Defenders organized a bi-lingual training workshop in the project area, engaging Peruvian herders from our collaborative wolf coexistence effort, the Wood River Wolf Project in Idaho, to train the Peruvian sheepherders in Oregon in effective nonlethal methods to protect sheep. These experienced herders and managers primarily conducted the workshop in Spanish for the new herders, and it was translated in English for the wildlife managers from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, USDA Wildlife Services Oregon staff, local livestock managers and wildlife advocates.