Wolf Town Hall Meeting in Enterprise

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The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a town hall meeting in early January in Enterprise to hear the thoughts, concerns and comments of Oregonians about wolves entering the state.

The meeting scheduled for Jan. 8, 2003, will be the last of 15 public meetings on this subject until the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meets to discuss the comments received and decide on a course of action.

The comments recorded at the Enterprise meeting and the other meetings will be provided to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for consideration. The Commission is the rule-making body for ODFW. The seven-member Commission has heard from a variety of experts in the past several months about the potential for wolves to become established in Oregon. The Commission now is hearing from local residents to ensure that all opinions have been gathered.

Currently, no wolves are confirmed to live in Oregon. Three wolves were found in Oregon in 1999 and 2000. One radio-collared wolf was returned to Idaho, one was hit by a car and died in May 2000, and one was shot in October 2000. Biologists expect all three were dispersing from established packs in Idaho. Biologists also have told the Commission that more wolves are likely to arrive in Oregon. However, Oregon has no plans to actively reintroduce wolves into the state.

Wolves that enter the state from Idaho's packs are protected under both the state and federal endangered species acts. The Oregon Legislature is the only entity with authority to change the Oregon Endangered Species Act. The Commission, however, has the authority to add or remove species from the state list of threatened and endangered species.

The Wolf Town Hall Meeting will open with a short introductory presentation about the history of wolves in Oregon, their current biological and legal status, and the issues surrounding their migration into Oregon. Meeting participants then will have the opportunity to voice their comments and concerns about wolves in Oregon to any of several facilitators who will be available to record all comments. Participants also may choose to submit written comments on forms that will be available at the meeting. Some educational materials about wolves also will be available.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The town hall meeting is scheduled for:

-Enterprise: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2003, Enterprise High School, multi-purpose room, 201 SE Fourth St.

More information about wolves has been posted to the ODFW Web site at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/ODFWhtml/InfoCntrWild/gray_wolf/wolf_main.htm .