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STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

More comment time given for wolf plan

Vote on document is now delayed until Dec. 1

One of the main reasons for driving to St. Helens this Friday just got dropped.

Members of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission have extended the time allowed for comments for revisions to the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

The plan had been the 800-pound gorilla item on the agenda for Friday's commission meeting.

A formal request was made for the extension on the deadline by officials with the Union County Cattlemen, the Oregon Cattlemen's Association and the Union County Board of Commissioners.

Oregon law provides for an agency extension of its planned vote if a formal request is made.

With the new timeline, commissioners are scheduled to make final decisions about proposed wolf plan revisions at 1 p.m. Dec. 1 in Salem.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission decided in September to adopt a new rule to amend the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan after three proposed changes by the Legislature were not acted on by lawmakers during the 2005 session.

Those changes are the only portion of the plan subject to public comment. They would have:

  • Designated the wolf as a special status mammal.
  • Created a state-funded compensation program for livestock killed by wolves.
  • Allowed livestock owners without a permit to kill wolves caught in the act of killing livestock.

    If the proposed amendments are adopted by the commission, the rest of the plan will remain unchanged.

    Commissioners approved the Oregon wolf plan in February after a lengthy public process involving a citizen committee that met for more than a year to write a draft plan and a four-month public-comment period.

    Oregon's wolf plan does not call for actively reintroducing wolves from other states or provinces, but managing wolves that naturally arrive in Oregon from packs in Idaho.

    No wolves are confirmed in Oregon, but biologists expect the animals to establish a permanent Oregon population as the Idaho wolf population grows and spreads out.

    Wolves are protected under both the state and federal Endangered Species acts.

    Along with setting aside a decision about the wolf plan amendments, another agenda item also has been put on hold.

    A vote had been scheduled to change a rule to exempt veterinarians from a state requirement that wildlife rehabilitators pass a test had been scheduled.

    With those two items off the table, the remaining agenda items are:

  • A discussion and vote about a rule that would take baby clams off the developmental fisheries list and set up a permit system for the commercial bay clam dive fishery.
  • A presentation, discussion and vote on a rule to define "undue hardship" in issuing waivers to allow permit transfers in the commercial dungeness crab fishery.
  • A "look-ahead" presentation by Fish and Wildlife about a scheduled December vote on requirements under state fish-passage rules.

    A 2001 statute makes passage of migrating fish such as salmon, steelhead and trout a consideration in construction, repair and replacement projects in which there is a potential or current problem with the movement of fish.

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    If you go
    What: The November meeting of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

    When: A 7 p.m. Thursday reception will be held, followed by the regular commission meeting beginning at 8 a.m. Friday.

    Where: Both will be held at the Pavilion at the Columbia County Fairgrounds, 58892 Saulser Road, St. Helens.

    Call: (503) 947-6044.

    Online: Proposed revisions and the plan are available at: www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/

    Next meeting: 1 p.m. Dec. 1 at Fish and Wildlife headquarters, 3406 Cherry Avenue NE, Salem.

    Written comments:

    E-mail: anne.m.pressentin@state.or.us.

    Fax: (503) 657-2050.

    Mail: ODFW NW Region, 17330 SE Evelyn St., Clackamas, OR 97015.

    Comment deadline: 5 p.m. Nov. 30.

    Questions?: Call Craig Ely at (541) 963-2138 or Anne Pressentin Young at (503) 657-2000, Ext. 285.

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