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Lawsuit Filed to Stop Killing Endangered Oregon Wolves
Three conservation groups went to court Oct. 5 to stop the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife from killing the alpha male and another wolf from the Imnaha Pack. The agency’s proposal to shoot these wolves would leave only the alpha female and one pup born this year to fend for themselves this winter. Conservationists are also calling on Gov. John Kitzhaber to call off the hunt for the wolves—one of whom wears a radio tracking collar—until the issue is resolved.
The legal challenge argues that the state’s wolf management plan is inconsistent with its Endangered Species Act. Plaintiffs in the case include groups that formerly supported the wolf plan, but now believe the state wildlife agency is abusing its authority to kill wolves while downplaying portions of the plan that require livestock operations to adopt non-lethal alternatives to shooting wildlife.
“With this court case, we hope to save Oregon’s Imnaha Pack,” said Josh Laughlin, campaign director of Cascadia Wildlands. “Killing the alpha male and another of the pack’s four members by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is inconsistent with the state’s Endangered Species Act and demonstrates extreme disregard for Oregon’s recovering native wildlife.”
The Sept. 23 kill order was not the first time the state authorized killing of wolves in Oregon. In 2009, the state sanctioned an order that led to the killing of two wolves in Baker County. The agency planned to kill two Imnaha Pack wolves in 2010, but was stopped by a court challenge from the same conservation groups opposing this latest kill plan.
Earlier this year, wolves lost federal Endangered Species Act protection by a congressional budget rider, and soon after, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife killed two additional wolves in response to a series of livestock losses blamed on the Imnaha Pack. Following those killings, some members of the pack dispersed, leaving just four members, which are now under threat by the most recent kill order. Under the state wildlife agency’s management, Oregon’s wolf population has dropped from 21 to 14 this year due to lethal control, poaching, dispersal and the accidental killing of a young female by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff.
“Oregon has issued an execution order for the state’s first wolf pack in more than 60 years,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Killing these wolves will stymie wolf recovery in Oregon. There’s no evidence that killing these wolves will reduce livestock mortality or increase tolerance of wolves.”
Some of the groups involved in the lawsuit had originally supported the management plan as a compromise because it required landowners to adopt nonlethal measures before lethal control could be carried out. The groups, however, have become increasingly frustrated by the wildlife agency’s willingness to shoot wolves in response to political pressure from powerful livestock interests, including the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.
“Under the wolf plan, shooting endangered wolves was supposed to be the last resort, not the first option whenever a cow goes missing,” said Steve Pedery, conservation director for Oregon Wild. “We worked hard to develop a wolf plan that balanced wildlife conservation with the legitimate interests of ranchers, but the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and other anti-wildlife groups are refusing to honor their end of the bargain.”
When the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife took public comment on the management plan in 2010, the overwhelming majority of comments favored increased protection for Oregon’s fragile wolf population. The Imnaha pack is the first wolf pack to re-establish itself in Oregon after a 60-year absence and is one of only three packs known to exist in the state today. Wolves have migrated back into the state from Idaho after gray wolves were reintroduced in 1995 and are currently protected under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.
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Brian Sims, a Democratic representative in the Pennsylvania legislature, ranted in a Facebook Live video that went viral about the hypocrisy of Republican lawmakers who are pushing to reopen the state even though one of their members had a positive COVID-19 test.
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The coronavirus has resulted in stress, anxiety and fear – symptoms that might motivate a person to see a therapist. Because of social distancing, however, in-person sessions are less possible. For many, this has raised the prospect of online therapy. For clients in need of warmth and reassurance, could this work? Studies and my experience suggests it does.
Telehealth Versus Traditional Therapy<p><a href="https://www.cigna.com/hcpemails/telehealth/telehealth-flyer.pdf" target="_blank">Private insurance companies</a> like Cigna and Aetna, have come around; they now provide coverage for what they see as a "legitimate" service. And <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-wells-2019-consumer-survey-finds-majority-of-consumers-open-to-telehealth-adoption-continues-to-grow-300906438.html" target="_blank">surveys show</a> consumers are receptive to telehealth counseling: no driving to an appointment, no searching for a parking space, no worries about childcare while they're away, no need to switch providers if they move, and no problem if the specialist happens to be far away.</p><p>Online therapy opens doors for clients who wouldn't otherwise seek help, <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/empirical-examination-of-the-influence-of-personality-gender-role-conflict-and-self-stigma-on-attitudes-and-intentions-to-seek-online-counseling-in-college-students/oclc/941976505" target="_blank">particularly patients</a> who feel stigmatized by therapy or intimidated by a stranger sitting across the room from them. Often, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/1094931041291295" target="_blank">people open up</a> more easily in telehealth sessions. Firsthand accounts have detailed <a href="https://www.romper.com/p/i-tried-online-therapy-for-a-month-this-is-what-happened-13630" target="_blank">positive experiences from consumers</a>.</p>
Overcoming Prejudices About Online Counseling<p>Now COVID-19 is forcing most traditional psychotherapists to adapt their practice to <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/expressive-trauma-integration/202003/covid-19-etherapy-in-times-isolation" target="_blank">online counseling</a>. After experiencing the medium, they are <a href="https://www.wecounsel.com/blog/why-every-therapist-in-private-practice-needs-a-telehealth-option/" target="_blank">overcoming their prejudices</a>. Many will convert some or all of their caseloads to telehealth after the pandemic ends. Most of our clients seem to be good with it: responding to a satisfaction survey, 85% of USF students strongly or somewhat agreed their telehealth experience was comparable to an in-person visit.</p><p>All this allows a continuity of care for clients that before was impossible; there is, however, a caveat. Because of the coronavirus, some of my clients at USF who live out-of-state have moved back home. That means, legally, I can no longer serve them. Even though they are still USF students, my license is valid only in Florida.</p><p>For telehealth to work effectively, our national system of licensing and regulation law needs to adapt. Although the federal government temporarily halted HIPAA regulations to promote telehealth during this time, not all states are allowing out-of-state practice. The coronavirus may not be here forever, but spring break and Christmas holidays always will. We need seamless telehealth across state lines.</p>
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Kevin Frayer / Stringer / Getty Images
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