State and federal wildlife officials are investigating the death of a second wolf discovered in the Fremont-Wenema National Forest of Southern Oregon in the past year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for shooting a gray wolf designated OR-33 by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The wolf’s carcass was discovered in April 2017 and taken to a USFWS lab in Ashland, Ore., for a necropsy. The results were not announced until Oct. 11. The animal had one or more gunshot wounds, according to USFWS. It’s not clear when the wolf was shot.
A year earlier, on Oct. 6, 2016, an Oregon wolf designated OR-28 was found dead in the national forest. That carcass also was examined at the Ashland lab, but the cause of death hasn’t been announced. Brent Lawrence, USFWS spokesman, said the case is still open. The federal agency and Oregon State Police are jointly investigating.
The wolf deaths are not necessarily related. ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said the sites where the wolves were found are “geographically far apart.”
Still, conservation groups and wolf activists have long warned that wolf “poaching” is going on, and question whether the state is doing enough to protect them. The news about OR-33 also comes on the heels of ODFW’s authorizing “lethal control” on the Harl Butte and Meacham wolf packs in Northeast Oregon for repeated livestock attacks this summer. Four Harl Butte Pack wolves have been shot since August and ODFW recently authorized killing four more. One Meacham Pack wolf was shot before lethal authorization expired.
The two wolves found dead both dispersed from Northeast Oregon.
OR-33, a male estimated to be 4-years-old, left the Imnaha Pack in November 2015 and was not known to be part of a pack. It wore a tracking collar, but it quit transmitting in August 2016, according to ODFW.
OR-28 was a 3-year old female that was collared in June 2014 and dispersed from the Mount Emily pack in November 2015. Within a month, tracking collar data showed it had traveled more than 450 miles and was in the Silver Lake area in South Central Oregon. The wolf paired up with a male, OR-3, and had at least one pup.
Gray wolves are listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of Oregon, and under the Endangered Species Act it is a crime to kill them.
Anyone with information about he case should call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 503-682-6131, or the Oregon State Police Tip Line at 800-452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.