By Andrew Theen
Another gray wolf was illegally shot and killed, Oregon State Police said, this time in a far corner of Wallowa County.
Oregon State Police troopers said OR-23, the female breeding member of the Chesnimnus pack in the northeastern part of the state, was discovered dead on Wednesday. Officials believe the animal was fatally shot either Sunday or Monday. OR-23 was wearing a radio tracking collar. At last count, the pack had four pups as well as OR-23’s mate.
Troopers first announced the incident in a news release Friday.
The poaching is the latest in a string of illegal killings in Oregon dating back to 2015, when the state removed the canids from its endangered species list. Since then, advocacy groups say, at least nine animals have been deliberately poached or killed under suspicious circumstances.
“We are upset and frustrated by the unlawful wolf killings in Oregon,” Doug Cottam, wildlife division administrator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in a statement. “Poaching of any wildlife is wrong and harmful to their conservation. Please, if you know something about any of these cases, step forward and provide information to OSP, which can be done anonymously.”
Wolves remain protectedunder the federal endangered species act across much of Western Oregon. In Wallowa County, wolves can be killed under specific circumstances, such as if they are repeatedly linked to attacks on livestock, caught in the act of killing those animals or in self-defense.
Just last month, a hunter in Union County said he shot and killed a wolf in self-defense. No charges were filed in that instance. Nonprofit groups have since asked state officials to reopen the investigation into the incident.
Capt. Jeff Samuels, OSP’s fish and wildlife enforcement team leader, said in a statement the department would vigorously investigate poaching reports, but pointed out that he only has 120 people across the state.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Sgt. Chris Hawkins at the La Grande Patrol Office, 541-963-7175 ext. 4670. Callers can also remain anonymous by calling the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888.