Statement on Wolf Poaching Incident in Whitman County
It’s been reported that a farmer in Whitman County allegedly shot and killed a wolf southwest of Pullman on Sunday, October 12th, 2014.
We’ve learned that Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers responded to the scene after receiving a witness tip, making contact with the suspected poacher and determining that the wolf had been shot after the farmer pursued the animal for several miles in his vehicle after seeing it near his farm.
At this point, the shooting does not appear to have been in self-defense, nor did it appear to take place under a state law that allows citizens to shoot and kill a wolf that is caught in the act of attacking livestock or pets in the eastern third of the state, referred to as the state’s Eastern Recovery Zone.
Based on the information currently available, we believe this to be a flagrant violation of state law that warrants appropriately severe penalties if the offender is found guilty.
Whether one supports or opposes wolf recovery in Washington, the poaching of any wildlife is an unacceptable abuse of our natural resources. On both private and public land, all wildlife is a public trust in the care of all our state’s citizens.
From wolves and cougars to deer and elk, we intensely oppose the poaching or illegal killing of any wildlife. So much so that Conservation Northwest and WDFW have in the past provided a $10,000 reward fund for information used to help catch poachers who illegally kill rare wildlife, like gray wolves or grizzly bears, or who take part in "spree killing" of big game and other wildlife.
Lacking any evidence of threats to livestock, pets or people, the killing of this wolf appears to be a direct and obvious defiance of the rule of law that should not be tolerated in any civilized society. And as this case currently stands, we believe a particularly strong response is warranted considering the lengths this individual allegedly took to pursue the animal, and the fact that while gray wolves have become more abundant in some parts of our state, they remain designated as an endangered species statewide and are extremely rare in southeast Washington.
Wildlife crimes are often given a lower priority by busy prosecutors, and sometimes even face political opposition from vested interests. But the facts and intent appear egregious enough in this case that a failure to fully enforce poaching laws would send a disturbing signal to people who dislike wolves or other wildlife.
We call on the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office to enforce state law and show that the poaching of any wildlife, whether it’s a predator or a game species, will be punished to the full extent of the law.
WDFW is actively investigating this incident and are in contact with Whitman County law enforcement officials and the county commissioners. Once the investigation is complete, the case will be sent to the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office for a charging decision.
We will be sharing more on this case, and reports of wolf activity in the Palouse region, as new information becomes available.