By Craig Welch
Members of a Methow Valley ranching family have been charged in the killing of several endangered gray wolves and the attempt to illegally mail at least one of the pelts to Canada in a bloody box.
A federal grand jury Tuesday handed up a 12-count indictment that accuses Bill White and his son Tom White, of the Twisp area in Okanogan County, of poaching at least two wolves and then conspiring with Tom's wife, Erin White, to smuggle one of the pelts to an acquaintance in Alberta. The men may have killed another three of the endangered species, according to the indictment.
Activists pushing to see wolf populations restored in Washington applauded the charges.
"People who kill wolves are flat out poachers — people with disrespect for the law and for wildlife," said Mitch Friedman, of Conservation Northwest. "It's critical that we come down on them hard, and I'm glad to see that we are."
The indictment is the first to come after a rash of suspicious wolf deaths, many involving a group of animals known as the Lookout Pack, which took up residence in the Methow Valley in 2008.
One skinned gray-wolf carcass was found dumped by the roadside in Skagit County with a bullet hole in it. Meanwhile, the Lookout Pack's lone breeding female disappeared last year. She was wearing a radio collar that should have changed signals if she'd simply died. Instead it went silent, leaving state biologists to suspect it had been destroyed by a gunshot. She disappeared more than a year after federal agents began investigating the Whites. More....