A coalition of five conservation groups said it added $10,500 to a reward offered for information about the shooting of a protected gray wolf in the Fremont-Wenema National Forest of Southern Oregon.
Combined with a $5,000 reward previously offered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the fund now stands at $15,500. The federal agency and Oregon State Police are investigating.
The carcass of a wolf designated OR-33 by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 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.
Another wolf, OR-28, was found dead in the forest in October 2016. It also was examined at the Ashland lab, but the cause of death hasn’t been disclosed.
Activist groups have warned that wolves are being poached in Oregon and have called upon state officials to take action to protect the animals. Oregon Wild, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Humane Society of the United States jointly announced the additional reward contribution.
According to ODFW reports, 2015 was particularly deadly for wolves. OR-13 ingested a chemical that is deadly to animals; OR-34 and OR-31 were shot and the investigations are open; OR-22 was shot by a man who reported it to state police and said he’d been hunting coyotes; the Sled Springs pair were found dead of unknown cause. An uncollared sub-adult wolf was shot in 2016. Earlier in 2017, wolf OR-48 died when it bit a spring-loaded cyanide powder trap set by USDA Wildlife Services in an attempt to kill coyotes.
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 the cases 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.