HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

 

 

February 9, 2005   Hearing Room 50

3:30 P.M. Tapes  16 - 18

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Patti Smith, Chair

Rep. Brian Boquist, Vice-Chair

Rep. Arnie Roblan, Vice-Chair

Rep. Terry Beyer

Rep. Chuck Burley

Rep. Mark Hass

Rep. Mac Sumner

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Patrick Brennan, Committee Administrator

Jania Zeeb, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD:                    

                                                Wolf Management – Informational Meeting

 

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 16, A

003

Chair P. Smith

Calls the meeting to order at 3:32 p.m. and opens the informational meeting on wolf management.

WOLF MANAGEMENT - INFORMATIONAL MEETING

017

Rep. Greg Smith

House District 57.  Gives reason why the issue of wolves is important and expresses gratitude for the discussion.  States that it is important to hear from both sides of the issue. 

042

Lindsay Ball

Director, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).  Gives the history of the discussion on wolves.  Discusses the proposed wolf management plan.

064

Chair P. Smith

Asks for information on the meeting of the Wolf Advisory Committee scheduled for February 10, 2005.

065

Ball

Provides an overview of the meeting agenda. 

071

Chair P. Smith

Inquires what time the meeting starts on Friday February 11, 2005.

072

Ball

Responds that the meeting is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.

079

Craig Ely

Northwest Regional Manager, ODFW.  Gives a history of wolves moving into Oregon. 

117

Ely

Discusses the activities of the Wolf Advisory Committee.

132

Ely

Mentions that two of the members of the advisory committee did not sign the report, rather they signed minority reports.  Details the informational meetings that were held around the state.

179

Ely

Submits and presents prepared testimony in support of the wolf management plan (EXHIBIT A).  Submits a summary of the federal court case (EXHIBIT B).

191

Rep. Burley

Inquires if he can explain what the 4(d) rules did and where they applied.

198

Ely

Answered that the rules allowed landowners to take more aggressive action with wolves.  Remarks that this brought standards down so landowners could protect their livestock from predators. 

212

Rep. Burley

Clarifies that the protection was only under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

214

Ely

Concurs with Rep. Burley.  Observes that the Oregon ESA provides a higher level of protection than the federal ESA. 

223

Rep. Hass

Asks if Judge Robert E. Jones’ decision had the effect of making the wolf management plan moot. 

225

Ely

States that Rep. Hass is correct, in that the 4(d) rules were vacated as a result of Judge Jones’ decision.

229

Rep. Hass

Asks whether the current draft management plan will be sufficient if the court decision is reversed, or whether a different plan might be needed.

231

Ely

Speculates that would depend on whether the same rules are used.

237

Rep. Hass

Inquires how long this would take.

239

Ely

States that it is difficult to predict, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has not indicated what the process will be.

249

Chair P. Smith

Inquires if that means that a decision on adopting the draft management plan should be put off until the federal court case has been resolved.

252

Ely

States that his recommendation is that adoption of the draft management plan goes forward.  Reiterates ODFW’s goal of bringing the 4(d) rules and Oregon’s rules together.

270

Rep. Boquist

Requests confirmation that there are 14 members on the advisory committee.

274

Ely

Concurs with Rep. Boquist.

275

Rep. Boquist

Asks if the two groups that filed the federal lawsuit are part of the 14- member committee.

279

Ely

Clarifies that there were two members of the wolf advisory committee that represent groups that were among the 19 that filed the federal lawsuit.

289

Rep. Boquist

Summarizes the extenuating circumstances affecting the wolf management plan.  Comments that the advisory committee should continue to examine the issue, particularly in light of the federal court decision.  Inquires what the rational is behind not waiting a month or two until the issue is clarified. 

304

Ball

Explains that if the department waits to adopt the plan, the time remaining to move the requisite bills through the legislative process will diminish.  Warns that without the plan to guide the state, the federal government will be left to make the decision.  Comments that it is better for Oregon to have a plan to deal with the issue than to let the federal government make the decisions.

334

Chair P. Smith

Inquires when the commission meets next after the February 11 meeting.

337

Ball

Answers that the commission meets once per month.

342

Chair P. Smith

States that the decision on the draft management plan could be postponed this until the March meeting. 

346

Ball

Remarks that the department would prefer to utilize this session to get legislation passed. 

356

Chair P. Smith

Asks what legislative concepts are currently being prepared for introduction that addresses this issue.

358

Ball

Responds that the department has yet to put any bills in motion, though three are anticipated.

374

Rep. Burley

Requires confirmation that parts of the plan will need legislation for implementation.

383

Ball

Concurs with Rep. Burley.

390

Rep. Burley

Asks if it is necessary to have a plan in place before introducing legislation.

394

Ball

Comments that it is important that there be assurances that wolves will be managed by the State, and therefore a plan is necessary.

403

Rep. Burley

Discusses the issue of the lethal taking of wolves.  Asks for clarification in how take plays into the issue while the wolves remain classified as endangered, and what the plan does in response to that.

TAPE 17, A

008

Ball

Responds that it is more appropriate to have a plan than to just have the federal government tell the state how wolves are to be managed. 

017

Rep. Burley

Asks if we cannot have lethal take given the current status of the wolves. 

022

Ball

Responds that he is correct, adding that USFWS is going to review the plan.  It is unclear if they will allow lethal take, but without the wolf management plan in place they cannot allow lethal take in Oregon.

037

Rep. Boquist

Inquires if it is true that the USFWS cannot take a position on Oregon’s plan until decisions are made at the federal level.

041

Ball

Answers that the issue for the federal government is whether or not lethal take is legal with or without a plan.

044

Rep. Boquist

Notes that the deadline for introducing legislation has passed.  Asks how the department plans to bring bills forward after this point. 

052

Chair P. Smith

Explains the process by which legislation can still be introduced.

053

Rep. Boquist

Inquires if ODFW or the Governor’s Office has addressed this with the speakers office.

056

Ball

Reiterates that he has not allowed his staff to second guess the commission by bringing legislation before the commission has voted on the wolf management plan. 

063

Rep. G. Smith

States that he has introduced three bills that would address this issue. 

077

Ely

Begins walking through the federal court decision and its consequences (EXHIBIT A).

094

Ely

States what the current status of the wolf management plan is (EXHIBIT A).

110

Ely

Discusses the issue of livestock losses. Compares the Oregon wolf management plan with current federal law.

131

Rep. Roblan

Inquires if the wolves crossing the border are part of an ESA 10J experimental population that was placed in the Rocky Mountains. 

133

Ely

Replies affirmatively.

134

Rep. Roblan

Asks whether an agreement is necessary in order to have an experimental population placed in a state.

136

Ely

States that Rep. Roblan is correct.

141

Rep. Roblan

Suggests that if the wolves crossing the border are part of an experimental population then Oregon may have a right to ask the federal government to return them to Idaho.

146

Ball

States that the federal government is not willing to take them back because of their endangered status. 

154

Rep. Roblan

Clarifies if he is saying that the wolves either lose their experimental status once they cross the border or the state has a right to ask the federal government to deal with them, as they would still be under federal jurisdiction.

156

Ball

Concurs with Rep. Roblan.  Mentions that state law mandates that the wolf be managed when it is in Oregon.

166

Rep. Roblan

Asks if it is acceptable under federal rules to eradicate predatory animals if they are causing harm to farm animals. 

170

Ball

Answers that in regard to predatory animals there are provisions that allow lethal take in such cases.

174

Rep. Roblan

Inquires if the wolves are covered under those provisions.

176

Ball

States that wolves are not classified as a predator under existing statute.

177

Rep. Roblan

Remarks that in Oregon statute they are not predators, but under federal statue they are predators.

178

Ball

States that he is not familiar with the federal law.

180

Ely

Continues comparing Oregon’s law with the federal law (EXHIBIT A, Page 2)

223

Rep. Roblan

Inquires about the economic impact of the wolf management plan.

230

Ely

Responds that there was a chapter in the report on the economic impacts.  Details the conclusions that were come to and how they drew those conclusions.

253

Rep. Roblan

Asks if there is an estimate on the number of livestock that might be lost to wolves that the state would be responsible for reimbursing ranchers for.

257

Ely

Responds that there is an estimate and he will get the numbers for the committee. 

291

Rep. G. Smith

Inquires what the potential migration of the grey wolf would be and if it is expected to reach the Ochoco or Deschutes National Forest.

301

Ely

Answers that the wolf management plan does not restrict where wolves can be, the goal is to limit conflict around the wolves. 

333

Rep. G. Smith

Remarks that there is a potential for gray wolves to spread throughout the state.

335

Rep. Boquist

Asks for information on the potential compensation package in regard to the wolf management plan. 

350

Rep. Burley

Encourages the department to wait at least a month to see what the USFWS will do.

364

Ball

Discusses the importance of take, and how the state ESA currently does not allow for taking of wolves. 

395

Rep. Burley

Offers a hypothetical case in which lethal take were to be provided for under the state ESA, and a person were to take a wolf; asks whether that person would be subject to prosecution under the federal ESA.

406

Ely

Replies affirmatively. 

415

Rep. Sumner

States that he is more concerned with the well-being of sheep ranchers and beef ranchers than with that of endangered species. 

TAPE 16, B

023

Chair P. Smith

Asks if General Fund moneys have been expended on the wolf management plan. 

029

Ely

Details from the sources of funding for the development of the plan.

044

Ball

Comments that this is an extremely emotional issue that has gotten much participation.  Remarks that the State of Oregon could do a better job managing the wolves than the federal government can. 

063

Sen. Ted Ferrioli

Senate District 30.  Testifies as a resident of John Day Oregon.  Expresses that the effort that was put forth in the wolf management plan is excellent.  Notes that the decision by Judge Jones changes the political and legal landscape in which the management plan is in, and as a result Oregon will not be allowed to manage the wolf.

108

Sen. Ferrioli

Asserts that management is necessary if lethal take is to be allowed.  Gives an example of what happened with a case in 1999 regarding a plan to prevent the Coastal Coho from being listed.  Comments on the federal government’s involvement in this situation.  States that it is better to have a plan but only if that plan can create management tools.

149

Sen. Ferrioli

Comments that, in order to remedy the current situation, the State of Wyoming needs to revisit the issue in their state. States that the wolf management plan has few deliverables.  Discusses the problem with the plan.

200

Sen. Ferrioli

Points out the possibility of lawsuits under the federal endangered species act. 

245

Sen. Ferrioli

Remarks that we accomplished the goal of achieving a management plan that features incidental take.  Suggests the plan could have been adopted had it not been for the federal decision. 

332

Sen. Ferrioli

Opines that the commission should wait to take action on the draft management plan because of the federal courts decision. 

347

Rep. Mike Schaufler

House District 48.  Provides insight on why he is interested in this issue.  Expresses his support to the people who will be affected and emphasizes the need flexibility to allow landowners to take care of their cattle, pets, livestock and family without having to go through a long process of verification. 

422

Chuck Craig

Deputy Director, Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).  States that the department has been following the development of this plan.

435

Rodger Huffman

Animal Health Division Administrator, ODA.  Acknowledges that the livestock industry will be impacted by wolves coming to Oregon, adding that the management plan was intended to deal with some of those impacts.  Submits and discusses two letters containing recommendations made by the department to the commission (EXHIBITS C and D)

TAPE 17, B

043

Rep. Hass

Inquires if there is a barrier to Oregon developing some form of compensation plan even in light of the federal decision.

045

Huffman

Responds that the compensation issue is still viable. Continues his presentation by stating the concern that Oregon is not getting any federal money to help the state deal with the wolves. 

074

Rep. Roblan

Asks if it is true that Oregon issues permits to own wolves and take care of them.

076

Huffman

Answers that Rep. Roblan is correct.

077

Rep. Roblan

Inquires if part of that agreement is that the owner is responsible for the wolf, so that if the animal escapes the owner is responsible for recovery of their animal.

078

Craig

Responds that he is correct, adding that the animals are required to be in continuous captivity.

081

Rep. Roblan

Asks if there is any way to compel the federal government to acquire permits if they are going to have the wolves.

082

Craig

States that the Attorney General’s Office has indicated that the law does not apply to this problem.

110

Justin Martin

Defenders of Wildlife.  Introduces Amaroq Weiss.

122

Amaroq Weiss

Director, Defenders of Wildlife.  Gives background of her organization and her position.  Submits and reviews prepared testimony in support of the wolf management plan (EXHIBIT E).

151

Weiss

Expresses the view that the federal lawsuit is not a brick wall to the Oregon wolf management plan process.  Gives a history of the federal case.  States that Defenders of Wildlife supports wolf conservation.

181

Weiss

Remarks that state management of wolves with a balanced, science based, and legal management plan is what the organization wanted to happen.  Emphasizes the importance of an adequate regulatory mechanism, such as a state plan, so that the federal protections can be removed.  Says the plan needs to address the social concerns of the people as well as the conservation of the wolves. 

206

Weiss

Asserts that Defenders of Wildlife will not sue for habitat protection for wolves because wolves are naturally mobile. 

215

Rep. G. Smith

Inquires what part of Oregon Ms. Weiss is from and how many head of cattle she owns.

218

Weiss

Responds that she lives between Medford and Jacksonville, and that she does not have cattle but she does have horses.

221

Rep. G. Smith

Comments on the compensation plan, and the money for the plan could potentially come from the General Fund.  Asks whether it is acceptable to take money away from other programs in order to pay for compensation.

231

Weiss

States that she feels that protecting native species is a legacy for future generations. 

243

Rep. G. Smith

Inquires if putting money into a compensation plan is more important than our schools, state police or senior citizens.

255

Weiss

Answers that agriculture interests are as important as the services mentioned. 

277

Rep. G. Smith

Inquires what steps were taken to stop the judicial action in order to prevent the wolf management plan from being preempted by the decision of the court.

290

Weiss

Responds that legal efforts against USFWS have been ongoing for years and gives a history of the court case. 

308

Rep. Burley

Asks that the committee be provided with details of the Defenders of Wildlife compensation plan in Oregon. 

314

Weiss

Refers to the informational packet on Wolf Compensation Guidelines (EXHIBIT F).

327

Rep. Burley

Comments that if the state has the conservation plan in place it might provide the federal government with more flexibility, and asks if that could mean the wolf could be downlisted in Oregon, thereby allowing for lethal take.

340

Weiss

Remarks that the only way the federal government can downlist the wolf is if the management plan is in place.

354

Rep. Burley

Asks if Defenders of Wildlife would support the downlisting of wolves if the management plan was in place.

365

Weiss

Answers that the organization is still consulting with their lawyers on that issue. 

399

Sharon Beck

Co-Chair Wolf Task Force; Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA).  States that OCA has a zero tolerance policy toward wolves.  Submits and reads prepared testimony in opposition to the draft wolf management plan (EXHIBIT G).

TAPE 18, A

053

Chair P. Smith

Requests clarification on county ordinances forbidding wolves from coming into that territory.  Asks if Multnomah county passed such an ordinance.

055

Beck

Responds that Grant County passed such an ordinance. 

068

Bill Hoyt

Rancher. Submits and reviews prepared testimony on the Oregon Wolf Management Plan (EXHIBIT H).

125

Hoyt

States that if the plan is adopted the state will be asked to pay for damage inflicted by wolves.  Questions whether the state can afford to do so. 

140

Rep. Beyer

Expresses appreciation for those who testified on the issue. 

The following prepared testimony is submitted for the record without public testimony:

 

Clint Krebs

Morrow County.  Submits a letter to the committee in support of the wolf management plan (EXHIBIT I).

156

Chair P. Smith

Closes the informational meeting on the wolf management plan and adjourns the meeting at 5:34 p.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. A.     Wolf Management Plan, prepared testimony, Craig Ely, 3 pp
  2. B.     Wolf Management Plan, summary of the federal court case, Craig Ely, 35 pp
  3. C.     Wolf Management Plan, letter to Chair Rae on 10/18/04, Rodger Huffman, 3 pp
  4. D.    Wolf Management Plan, letter to Chair Rae on 12/22/04, Rodger Huffman, 3 pp
  5. E.     Wolf Management Plan, prepared testimony, Amaroq Weiss, 2 pp
  6. F.      Wolf Management Plan, informational packet, Amaroq Weiss, 8 pp
  7. G.    Wolf Management Plan, prepared testimony, Sharon Beck, 3 pp
  8. H.    Wolf Management Plan, prepared testimony, Bill Hoyt, 3 pp
  9. I.       Wolf Management Plan, letter to the committee, Clint Krebs, 3 pp