SEATTLE— Conservation groups are now offering up to a $20,000 reward for information leading to conviction of those responsible for the illegal killing of the breeding female wolf of the Teanaway pack in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Last month the groups posted a reward offer of up to $15,000, but have now increased the amount, after a member of Conservation Northwest stepped forward to contribute an additional $5,000.
“This new donation to help bring the Teanaway wolf poacher to justice shows how passionate Washingtonians are about protecting our rare and recovering wildlife,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Conservation Northwest. “There is strong support for wolf recovery in Washington, and people are appalled by this type of illegal killing. We’re thrilled to see our supporters stepping up like this, they make our work possible.”
The Teanaway Pack wolf was killed in mid-October near Salmon la Sac in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, making it the fourth known illegal wolf-killing in the state in 2014. In February a member of the Smackout Pack was found killed in Stevens County; in August a wolf was found gunned down in Ferry County; and a Whitman County farmer is facing potential prosecution after chasing a wolf for miles, then gunning it down after seeing the wolf near his field.
“It’s hard to comprehend these senseless illegal killings, because not only are wolves legally protected, there is no evidence these wolves were doing anything harmful at the time of their deaths,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “What’s more, if anyone thinks they were helping out livestock producers by killing wolves, the exact opposite is true; a brand new study published by a Washington State University wolf scientist demonstrates that killing wolves can increase wolf-livestock conflicts.”
Wolves, which were largely eradicated from the state by the early-to-mid 1900s, are starting to make a comeback, and are fully protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of Washington and throughout the state under state endangered species law. The state wolf-conservation goal is a minimum of 15 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years in three recovery regions across the state from eastern Washington to the Olympic Peninsula. To date, numbers of successful breeding packs in the state have been stagnant at five packs since 2012. However, in 2014 three of those packs will no longer qualify as successful breeders since the breeding females of the Huckleberry Pack and the Teanaway Pack have both been killed and a wildfire resulted in the loss of most pups from the Lookout Pack.
“This deplorable action should not be left unchecked. Washington’s wolf population remains precarious, and killing the breeding alpha female of the Teanaway pack has cascading consequences for continued wolf recovery in Washington,” said Shawn Cantrell, Northwest regional director for Defenders of Wildlife. “This reward will hopefully help law enforcement bring the perpetrator to justice.”
According to Special Agent Eric Marek with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, the investigation is still open and ongoing. Anyone with information about the killing of the Teanaway female wolf, or anyone who may have noticed suspicious behavior in the Salmon la Sac area in October, should contact federal law-enforcement agents at (206) 512-9329 or (509) 727-8358. State law enforcement may be contacted at the 1-877-933-9847 hotline for reporting poaching activity in Washington.
The organizations that have contributed to the reward fund for information leading to a conviction in this case include the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust and Woodland Park Zoo.