By Rob Klavins
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service looking for tips to aid investigation into illegal killing.
A group of local northeast Oregon residents along with state and national wildlife conservation organizations are offering a reward of up to $7,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally killing an endangered gray wolf in the Umatilla National Forest. The fund is in addition to $2,500 offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
On September 30, a young adult male member of the Wenaha Wolf Pack was found dead by wildlife agents. The animal had been fitted in early August with a radio tracking collar by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) officials to help biologists track the movement of the pack – one of only two known wolf packs in Oregon. This is the third known wolf poaching incident in the state since the species began returning to Oregon after being exterminated over 60 years ago. Though it has been over a decade since the first wolves began to return to the state, the confirmed population stands at a mere 20 wolves. The loss of any wolves is a serious blow to their recovery.
Wally Sykes of Joseph, Oregon is a founder of the community group Northeast Oregon Ecosystems helped raise a portion of the money from neighbors, friends, and community members who were appalled to learn of the killing.
“It’s infuriating when any animal is senselessly and illegally killed, but the facts in this case are especially egregious,” said Sykes. “The biologists had just fitted this endangered wolf with a hard-to-miss collar and sent out photos printed in newspapers and websites across the state. Whoever shot this wolf knew what they were doing and just didn’t care that it was illegal.”
The gray wolf is listed as endangered in Oregon and protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and the person or persons responsible face serious consequences. The crime could be punishable by up to a $100,000 fine and one-year prison sentence. More....