Officials in Oregon are asking for the public’s help in locating the person (s) responsible for poisoning eight wolves in the eastern part of the state earlier this year.
Oregon State Police are investigating the murder of five members of Catherine’s pack in Union County, as well as three other wolves from other packs, the agency said in a statement. press Thursday.
“To my knowledge, this is the first wolf pack to be killed by poison in Oregon,” OSP Captain Stephanie Bigman told Salem. “To my knowledge, there are no suspects. All avenues of inquiry have been exhausted and that is why we are asking the public for help. “
Wolf advocates were stunned by the news.
“It’s horrible,” said Sristi Kamal of Defenders of Wildlife in Portland. “This is clearly an intentional and repeated offense. “
Oregon only has about 170 wolves within its borders, and the loss of eight “is so egregious,” Kamal said.
“The poisoning of the Catherine Wolf Pack is tragic and disgusting,” said Sophia Ressler, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “No wolf should have to suffer such a fate. Horrific events like this show how much more work is needed to coexist with these vitally important animals. “
A group of conservation and animal welfare groups said Thursday night they were offering $ 26,000 in combined rewards for information leading to a conviction for the poisonings. The awards were offered by the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, Oregon Wild, Predator Defense and WildEarth Guardians.
Wolves once roamed most of the United States, but were wiped out in most places in the 1930s as part of government-sponsored poisoning and trapping campaigns.
More than 2,000 wolves occupy six states in the northern Rockies and the Pacific Northwest after animals were reintroduced from Canada to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park starting in 1995.
However, wolves remain absent throughout most of their historical range. Defenders of wildlife argue continued protections are needed so that they can continue to thrive in California, Colorado, Oregon and other states.
The Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division was alerted on February 9 that a collared wolf from Catherine’s pack may have died.
The soldiers responded and located five dead wolves, three males and two females. The wolves were located southeast of Mount Harris in Union County. Investigators also found a dead magpie near the dead wolves, the agency said.
The animals were sent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s forensic lab in Ashland to determine the cause of death.
On March 11, state police learned that a death signal from an additional wolf collar had been received at the same general location. Researchers found a dead wolf, a skunk and a magpie close to the scene. The wolf was determined to be part of Keating’s pack.
In April, the federal lab published results consistent with poisoning as the cause of death for the six wolves, the skunk and two magpies.
Additionally, two other collared wolves have been found dead in Union County after the initial incidents. In April, a deceased adult male wolf from the Five Points pack was located west of Elgin, and in July a young wolf from the Clark Creek pack was located northeast of La Grande, the seat of the county.
Toxicology reports have confirmed the presence of different types of poison in these two wolves, the OSP said.