PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the illegal killing of OR-23, a 4-and-a-half-year-old gray wolf in Wallowa County. Oregon State Police announced Friday that the wolf, which was the breeding female of the Shamrock pack, was discovered dead on Wednesday and had been shot and killed a few days earlier. She leaves behind a mate and four known pups.
In the past month, state and federal officials have announced the poaching deaths of two other wolves, known as OR-25 and OR-33, near Fort Klamath and Klamath Falls, where wolves still have federal protection. So far, 10 wolves have been poached or died under mysterious circumstances since state endangered species act protections were removed from Oregon wolves across the state in late 2015.
“If wolves are ever going to recover in Oregon, they have to stop dying like this,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity.
At the time of state delisting, conservation groups warned the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission that scientific research shows removing protection from wolves, as well as increased wolf-killing by agencies or the public, decreases social tolerance for wolves and increases incidences of poaching.
“The illegal killing of this mother wolf is a tragic loss for her mate and her pups, but also for Oregonians who cherish these magnificent animals and want to see wolf recovery succeed here,” said Weiss. “We will keep pushing the state to take concrete actions to halt poaching but in the meantime we’re appealing to the public to come forward with any information to help bring the killer to justice.”
Anyone with information about this case should call Sergeant Chris Hawkins at the La Grande Patrol Office, (541) 963-7175 ex 4670. Callers can also stay anonymous by calling the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888.
OR-23 was found killed in the Chesnimnus hunt unit of Wallowa County in an area known as Cold Springs. She was found Wednesday, Nov. 15 and believed to have been fatally shot either Nov. 12 or 13. The killing is being investigated by the Oregon State Police.
OR-23 was a female gray wolf who was born into the Umatilla River Pack and was radio-collared as a pup in October 2013. In 2014 she wandered to northern Wallowa County where she paired with a male wolf. That year they were called the Chesnimnus pair, but then moved onto the Sled Springs unit where they produced three pups in 2015. At this point they were renamed the Shamrock pack. No pups were confirmed in 2016 but in 2017 the pack was confirmed to have included at least four pups.
Killing a gray wolf in the eastern third of Oregon does not violate state or federal endangered species laws but is a violation of Oregon state game laws and is subject to both criminal and civil penalties.
The announcement of the poaching death of OR-23 and the surge of wolf-poaching statewide comes as the state fish and wildlife commission prepares to adopt revisions to Oregon’s wolf conservation and management plan.