Last week, the Senate approved a large slate of candidates for various state commissions and boards; most notably, the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission. The Governor had recommended five commissioners from around the state, coming from a variety of backgrounds, including conservation, hunting, commercial fishing, and ranching. After a highly publicized campaign to oppose James Nash, a rancher and hunting guide from Wallowa County, only four of the five Fish & Wildlife Commissions Nominees were approved. The agricultural and natural resources community are working hard to find another quality candidate with the aim of getting approval before session adjourns.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the federal proposal to delist the gray wolf, Oregon’s executive branch has sent mixed messages. ODFW Director Curt Melcher issued a letter supporting the federal delisting and noting Oregon’s success and ability to continue to protect wolves. Later this week, the Governor released a letter sent to the Secretary of the Interior, noting that wolves do not need to be listed in Oregon, but opposing the federal delisting. Given the public media efforts by wolf conservation advocates, a number of policy issues will continue to be political hot potatoes within the Governor’s office and the legislature. Finally, the updated state Wolf Conservation and Management plan is scheduled for a vote by the Fish & Wildlife Commission next month.