A bill to ratify the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision to delist wolves under state jurisdiction officially arrived in Gov. Kate Brown’s office Wednesday.
Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, whose District 30 encompasses parts of Wasco County, said the governor has 30 business days to sign the legislation (April 20) or it will automatically be enacted.
If the governor decides to veto House Bill 4040, as she is being urged to do by conservation groups, Ferrioli said Brown will send both the House and Senate a letter announcing that decision five days before it takes place.
“That allows people time to respond,” he said.
Ferrioli believes Brown will sign the bill because to not do so would show a lack of faith in ODFW, one of her agencies.
“Not only would she be going against a branch of her own administration, a majority of the legislature in both chambers agreed ODFW made the right decision,” he said.
Because of the controversial nature of the wolf management plan, Ferrioli said ODFW made the decision to delist wolves with peer-reviewed science and ensured protocol used in that process was approved as legally defensible by the attorney general’s office.
Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity have legally challenged ODFW’s decision. They claim the science used in the November delisting was “fundamentally flawed and legally inaccurate.”
Wolves are still federally protected in all but the most eastern parts of Oregon, which is the only region that will be affected by state delisting.
Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands, is reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting as saying that, if House Bill 4040 becomes law, the decision to delist would then belong to the legislative and executive branches.
He said groups wanting to challenge would likely no longer have grounds to go after the agency-level decision.
Ferrioli said Brown will also have to consider that the wolf management plan was a negotiated agreement between livestock owners and conservationists.
“People want to know cooperation matters, that it means something,” he said.
“This is just one of those issues that books will be written about.”