KWSO News for 12/2/19

Wolf packs have established themselves in all points of the compass from Central Oregon and according to wildlife biologists say it’s probably only a matter of time before one settles in the Deschutes National Forest. According to The Bend Bulletin Gray wolves once ranged across Oregon, but their numbers plummeted in the 19th and 20th centuries due to clashes with ranchers. A 2018 survey documented a statewide population of at least 137 wolves, including 16 packs and 15 breeding pairs. But as the number of wolves increases, so does the number of wolf attacks on livestock. Last year the Oregon Department of Agriculture awarded grants of $160,890 to 10 counties. The funds were used for direct payment of confirmed depredations and missing livestock to ranchers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has plans to do winter snow track surveys in the upcoming months as it’s easier to track the wolves in snow compared to the bare forest floor.

The first steelhead to officially climb the newly opened fish ladder at Opal Springs Hydroelectric Project was recorded on a web camera swimming into the current at the stage of the $11 Million ladder and spillway project. Other fish, including rainbow trout and whitefish were also seen making use of the ladder completed earlier this month after two years of construction. The Bend Bulletin reports Dams, canals and other man-made barriers have threatened numerous fish species in Central Oregon for decades, but the construction of fish ladders like the one at Opal Springs is a key step toward fish recovery efforts. The free-flowing aspect of the fish passage is better for breeding and will result in healthier populations of fish, according to fisheries activist Yancy Lind.

An investigation is underway into a traffic stop that ended with a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputy shooting a man near a shopping center northeast of Bend. The Bulletin reports the man shot is expected to survive, and the deputy was not injured. Neither of their names has been released following the Friday evening incident. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says officers received a report of a car stolen from a Bend homeless shelter. Hummel says the shooting occurred after the officers stopped the vehicle. He would not say if the man shot was inside the vehicle. He says there were multiple shots fired and he wasn’t sure if those shots were fired by one deputy or several.

Authorities at Crater Lake National Park say someone driving off road damaged plants and other resources, and they’re asking for the public’s help in finding who is responsible. The Herald and News reports park rangers believe the incident happened late Nov. 23 or early Nov. 24. According to a park Facebook post, driving off roadways and damaging resources is a federal crime punishable by up to $5,000 and/or six months imprisonment for each offense. The park says there is a short window during summer months in which plants in the park get sunlight to grow. The rest of the year they can be buried in deep snow. The park says staff spends time each year fixing areas damaged by visitors not staying on roads or trails.

The Oregon Court of Appeals dismissed a gray wolf delisting lawsuit on Wednesday, citing a change in state law that blocked judicial review.  Monica Samayoa reports. “In its ruling, the court cited a law enacted three years ago as a reason to dismiss the case.  Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 40-40 into law despite protests from environmentalists. It blocked judicial review of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s process for determining gray wolves’ endangered species status. Cascadia Wildlands Legal Director Nick Cady says he is disappointed but not surprised. There was a lot of problems with the model that the Oregon department of fish and wildlife had created. It was like a novel, first time creation that hadn’t been peer reviewed and there was a lot of gaping, very obvious defects. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says it’s pleased with the lawsuit’s dismissal. Conservation groups say they have not decided if they will seek a Supreme Court decision on their case’s dismissal. Reporting from Portland, I’m Monica Samayoa”