If the poll recently compiled by the environmentalist Defenders of Wildlife organization is an accurate read, most Oregon and Washington residents say that the wolf recovery plan currently in force is a good move.
"Most residents" in the two states, as well as in California, believe wolves should continue to be protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the report states.
The poll was compiled as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes public comments on a proposal critics fear will strip federal protections for gray wolves in most of the continental U.S., including the western portions of the Pacific Northwest. A hearing is set for today (Sept. 30) in Washington, D.C., and on Wednesday (Oct. 2) in Sacramento, Calif. Written comments may be submitted until Oct. 28 to the USFWS.
Conducted in early September, the poll reflects the following, according to Defenders:
•More than two-thirds in each state agree that wolves are a vital part of nature and should be protected. On this issue, the organization says the poll shows 68% of those questioned in Oregon, and 75% in Washington, agreed.
•More than two-thirds in the states agree wolves are playing an important role in maintaining deer and elk populations (Oregon: 69%; Washington: 74%).
•At least two-thirds in the states support restoration of wolves to suitable habitats (Oregon: 66%; Washington: 71%)
•"Large majorities" agree that wolves should continue to be protected under the ESA (Oregon: 63%; Washington: 72%).
The survey and its interpretation are totally dependent on the Defender's interpretation.
"These poll results confirm what we already know," says Defenders' Northern Rockies representative Suzanne Stone. "Most people in the Pacific Northwest want to see wolves fully recovered.
"Over the years, I've met with countless wolf supporters in the region who are excited for these iconic animals to return to wilderness areas of their states. They understand the essential ecological role that wolves play in maintaining nature's healthy balance, and they think the species ought to be protected."
No mention was made in the survey or its report on the substantial impact of wolf reintroduction on the livestock industry of the region.