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OR: $13,540 reward offered for two wolves illegally poached in Eastern Oregon

Zach Urness Salem Statesman Journal

A combined reward of $13,540 is being offered to anyone with information about two wolves killed illegally in Eastern Oregon over the past two months.

Oregon State Police are investigating two different incidents in which a wolf was shot against state law in northeast Oregon’s Baker County.

While northeast Oregon’s wolves are not protected by the state or federal Endangered Species Act, it’s still illegal to kill them in most situations under the Oregon Wolf Plan. There is no general wolf hunting season in Oregon. 

Oregon wolf program coordinator Roblyn Brown worried that the loss of two animals, and the destabilization of one of the packs.

“Poaching of any wildlife is wrong and harmful to conservation,” Brown said.

Multple groups, including Oregon Wild, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Oregon Hunters Association, via the “Turn In Poachers” program, pitched in money for the rewards currently being offered. Five hunter preference points are also being offered.

Male wolf killed around Sept. 24

Sometime around Sept. 24, a black wolf with a pink radio-collar was shot and killed in the Skull Creek drainage of Willowa-Whitman National Forest off Forest Service Road 7741, police said. They found the body off the 125 spur road, about 1 mile east of Eagle Forks campground.

The reward for information leading to arrest of the person responsible is $6,150 with a possibility of 5 hunter preference points as well.

“The wolf was the breeding male of the Cornucopia Pack in eastern Baker County,” ODFW said in a news release. “He and the breeding female were both radio-collared and tracked by ODFW biologists as part of Oregon’s wolf monitoring program. They became a bonded pair in 2019 and raised three pups that year.”

The future of the Cornucopia pack is now uncertain, Brown said.

“When packs lose a breeding adult, the remaining members may stay together or they may disband, opening the territory for other wolves to move in,” Brown said. “Biologists won’t know the outcome until spring.”Get the Daily Briefing newsletter in your inbox.

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Information on this case should be reported to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line at *OSP (*677) or 800-452-7888 or by email: TIP@osp.oregon.gov

Second incident Baker County

The second suspected poaching incident also took place in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Baker County, although in a different area.

A female one-and-a-half-year-old wolf was found shot near Halfway, in the Pine Creek Wildlife Management Unit, in the Grouse Flat area off of the Forest Road 3990.

The reward being offered in this case is $7,600 plus 5 hunter preference points. 

“An elk hunter found the deceased wolf and reported the incident to OSP,” police said in a news release. “The hunter then led OSP and ODFW personnel to the location of the deceased wolf. The investigation determined the wolf was shot with a firearm.”

Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact OSP Sergeant Isaac Cyr through the Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888.

Conservation groups condemned the suspected poaching incidents.

“Oregon’s small wolf population faces an increasingly large poaching problem that could affect whether these incredible animals fully recover here,” said Amaroq Weiss, a senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With federal protections disappearing soon, we fear these two recent wolf poachings could become just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got to crack down on these illegal killings.”

Source: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2020/11/05/oregon-wolf-poaching-killed-illegally-baker-county/6177907002/