Back in early September I spoke to Oregon Wild’s Roadless Wildlands Advocate Rob Klavins about the issue of wolves in Oregon. At the time, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was busy seeking public comments on its Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, which the department had adopted in 2005, and has just recently renewed. (To the view the plan, click here.)

Our conversation spurred some passionate comments on the blog to say the least. (To read the interview, click here.) So I’ll be interested to hear Oregon Field Guide’s take on the subject. The show will air a half hour special, “Living With Wolves" this Thursday night (November 18) at 8:30 on OPB.

For the episode, Field Guide crewmembers spent the last year examining the complex issues surrounding these apex predators. Chief among them: how these animals can coexist with ranchers and their cattle. Oregon currently has a confirmed population of roughly 20 wolves that live in two packs: The small Wenaha pack near La Grande, which is made up of six wolves, and the larger Imnaha pack, a 14-member clan which roams near Enterprise. And it’s likely that more wolves have also pushed as far west as the Cascades.

But as wolf numbers increase, so do the conflicts. According to Capital Press, an agriculture industry news source, 40 livestock animals in the state have died from wounds inflicted by wolves in the last two years. And on September 30—the last day that ODFW was set to take comments on its wolf management plan—a 3-year-old male wolf from the Wenaha Pack that had been fitted with a radio collar was found illegally shot to death in the Umatilla National Forest.

The chillingly-timed incident marks the third time that a wolf has been illegally killed in the state during the last 10 years, and serves as an unsettling reminder that the species’ prospect for longterm survival in Oregon is as tenuous as it has ever been.