Conservation groups announced today a $16,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the illegal shooting death of a two-year-old collared female wolf in Wallowa County in early Jan. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Turn in Poachers division also offers a potential $300 reward for information regarding illegal wolf killings.
The Oregon State Police reported the incident on Jan. 11, after a concerned citizen alerted them. The slain wolf, designated as OR-106 by state wildlife biologists, was found on Parsnip Creek Road, about six miles southwest of the town of Wallowa in the Sled Springs game management unit. She dispersed from the Chesnimnus Pack, whose territory is in northern Wallowa County.
“Illegally killing Oregon’s few wolves out of hatred or spite must stop,” said Kelly Peterson, Oregon senior state director at the Humane Society of the United States. “The death of OR-106 at the hands of a poacher is heartbreaking and infuriating, especially after eight of Oregon’s wolves were illegally poisoned and killed just last year. While this reward cannot bring back these iconic animals, we hope it brings these cruel actors to justice and helps to put an end to the illegal slaughter of our wolves once and for all.”
This new illegal shooting follows the gruesome illegal poisoning deaths of multiple wolves last year in northeast Oregon. Eight wolves from four different packs, including all members of the Catherine Pack, were poisoned in neighboring Union County, in incidents between February and July of 2021.
“We want justice for this young wolf, who was simply seeking a mate and territory of her own before her life was cut tragically short by a bullet,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We call on the state to show its commitment to holding perpetrators accountable by having its Department of Justice launch an independent, thorough investigation into this most recent killing, and past unsolved illegal killings of Oregon’s wolves.”
“The senseless killing of the young female wolf OR-106 is a crime against this animal and all who care about Oregon’s wildlife,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, an Oregon-based national wildlife advocacy nonprofit. “It is absolutely critical that the perpetrator of this crime be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
“Oregonians are feeling frustrated that there doesn't seem to be enough of a deterrent to preclude these ongoing wolf killings,” said Adam Bronstein, Oregon/Nevada director of Western Watersheds Project. “Gov. Brown and other government officials need to take immediate action and start investigating these heinous crimes with vigor and resolve.”
“We call on state government and law enforcement to take seriously this devastating trend of illegal wolf killings and allocate all necessary resources to hold the criminals accountable,” said Bethany Cotton, conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands. “We ask community members to come forward with information they may have to solve these crimes and keep Oregon's rare wildlife safe.”
“When poachers get away with breaking the law it only leads to more poaching and lawlessness,” said Danielle Moser of Oregon Wild. “This is a result of wolves losing their endangered species protections coupled with a culture of poaching permissiveness. For far too long, poachers have been emboldened by those who excuse and celebrate their criminal acts without fear of consequences.”
“We are saddened to hear the tragic news of the cowardly killing of wolf OR-106, but unfortunately, we are not surprised,” said Stephanie Taylor, president of Speak for Wolves. “With 32 poached wolves in Oregon since their return and nearly zero accountability for any of the incidents, it’s clear Oregon's wildlife managers must do far more to educate the public on co-existence with native wildlife, and massively increase their efforts to hold poachers accountable. Otherwise, this ‘shoot, shovel, shut up’ culture will continue to thrive leading to even more poaching.”
Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact Oregon State Police Sgt. Isaac Cyr through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP via mobile. Tips can also be submitted via email (monitored Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
In the past 21 years, 30 wolves have been illegally killed in Oregon, and two more were found dead under mysterious circumstances, according to authorities. Five of these wolves were found dead in Wallowa County. Arrests and convictions have been made in only three of the 32 deaths.
The Trump administration stripped federal Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves across most of the country in January 2021, including in western Oregon. Since 2011 wolves in the eastern one-third of Oregon have not had federal protections and were managed solely by the state. In 2015 the state fish and wildlife commission prematurely stripped wolves of state endangered species act protections.
Even without state or federal protections, wolves are protected under Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Wolves may be killed only in self-defense and by Oregon’s wildlife agency staff in instances of chronic livestock predations. Individual livestock owners throughout Oregon may kill a wolf in the act of attacking livestock and, in the eastern half of the state, a wolf that is chasing livestock. Oregon does not currently allow wolf hunting or trapping seasons.
Scientific research has shown that removing protections for wolves is associated with increased illegal killings of wolves, and that for every illegally slain wolf found, another 1 to 2 wolves have been killed that will remain undiscovered.
Groups contributing pledge reward amounts are the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, Western Watersheds Project, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, Speak for Wolves, and Northeast Oregon Ecosystems.