POACHING – A Whitman County wolf-shooting case has been turned over by state officers to County Prosecutor Denis Tracy.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police delivered their evidence to the prosecutor on Nov. 19.
The man who shot a wolf around Oct. 12 could be charged with a misdemeanor for killing an animal that’s protected in far-Eastern Washington by state endangered species laws, said Steve Crown, Fish and Wildlife police chief.
The agency turned over case after receiving DNA lab results that confirmed the animal was a wolf and not a wolf hybrid.
Tracy’s office staff said Wednesday that the prosecutor is still investigating the case and has set no deadline for making the decision on whether to prosecute.
The identity of the shooter has not been released although WDFW officers described the man as a county farmer.
The original WDFW report said the man chased the wolf in a vehicle and shot it in a Palouse farm field about 15 miles southwest of Pullman.
“We’re not recommending anything,” Crown said. “We’re simply referring the facts of the case in our report. It’s up to the prosecutor to examine the facts and the case law and decide whether to bring charges.”
Although exemptions are made for killing a wolf to protect life or livestock, unlawful taking of a state endangered species is punishable by sentences of up to a year in jail and fines up to $5,000.
The only wolf-killing case to be prosecuted in Washington resulted in Twisp ranching family members being ordered to pay fines totaling $50,000 in 2012 for killing two Lookout Pack wolves in 2008. Those wolves also were protected by federal laws.
A Kittitas County wolf-killing case remains under investigation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Brent Lawrence said Tuesday no arrests have been made in the October shooting of an adult breeding female belonging to the Teanaway Pack near Salmon la Sac. Conservation groups have offered a $15,000 reward in the case.
Another wolf was found shot to death Feb. 9 near Cedar Lake in northeast Stevens County. Conservation groups joined with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to offer a $22,500 reward for information about the case. The case remains unsolved.