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Reward increased to $20,000 in poaching of gray wolf in Oregon

The Humane Society of the United States

Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible for the illegal killing of a federally protected gray wolf in south-central Oregon. This is in addition to a $5,000 reward offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a $10,000 reward offered by the Center for Biological Diversity.

Scott Beckstead, Oregon senior state director for The HSUS, said: “The illegal killing of this young mother wolf is tragic, as every individual wolf is essential to the future of Oregon’s small and vulnerable population. Wolves are one of the most misunderstood and persecuted species in North America, with special interest trophy hunting and trapping groups vying to strip them of protections. Wolves are a keystone species, and killing a breeding female can disrupt pack structure, which may lead to increased conflicts with livestock.  A recent poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Oregonians want wolves granted more protection, not less. We are grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon State Police for their dedication in pursuing those responsible for the death of this  mother wolf, who had an important role to play in the future of Oregon’s iconic wolves.”

The Case:  On Oct. 6, 2016, a radio collared 3-year-old female gray wolf known as OR-28 was found dead in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near Summer Lake, Oregon. The wolf’s carcass was sent to USFWS’s National Forensics Laboratory for a necropsy. OR-28 recently paired with 8-year-old male OR-3 and had her first litter of pups.

A Serious Crime: It is a violation of the federal Endangered Species Act to kill a gray wolf, which is listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of Oregon. The violation is punishable by a fine up to $100,000 and/or one year imprisonment. Poaching is a widespread problem in the United States, with wildlife officials estimating that poachers kill as many animals as legal hunters.

A Critical Time for Wolves: With an estimated population of just over 100 animals in Oregon, the future of the species remains uncertain. Earlier this year, the legislature passed a measure approving the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s decision to remove wolves from the state endangered species list despite evidence that wolves have not recovered and remain absent from most of their suitable range in the state. The HSUS is part of a coalition of groups fighting for stronger protections for Oregon’s wolves, submitting comments and testimony at the ODFW Commission’s Oct. 7 meeting regarding the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

Ben Callison, president of the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, said: “Poaching is an egregious crime against wildlife, and is particularly reprehensible when it involves an imperiled species struggling to make a comeback. By depriving this young mother wolf of her life, poachers have committed a crime against an individual animal, her pack, her species and the public. The reckless and callous crime of poaching—whether against wolves or any other species—cannot be tolerated. In addition, we must protect far more habitat, such as the Trust’s 3,621-acre Greenwood Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary in Lakeview, Oregon, where wolves and other wildlife have a safe and permanent place to roam and raise their young.” 

The Investigators: This case is being investigated by USFWS and the Oregon State Police. Anyone with information should call USFWS at 503-682-6131 or the Oregon State Police Tip Line at 800-452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.

Resources: The HSUS and the Trust work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspected poachers. Other services include assistance with internet wildlife trafficking investigations, donation of robotic decoys and forensic equipment, funds to support wildlife K-9 programs, outreach to prosecutors to encourage vigorous prosecution of poachers and legislative work to strengthen penalties for poaching.

Media Contact: Chloe Detrick: 301-721-6463; cdetrick@humanesociety.org

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