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In Oregon, 'Egregious' Poisoning Kills 8 Wolves

State wildlife officials want the public's help
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 2, 2021 3:40 PM CST
Oregon Has Only 170 Wolves. 8 Were Poisoned
This 2017 photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a gray wolf in Oregon's northern Wallowa County.   (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, File)

(Newser) – Officials in Oregon are asking for public assistance to locate the person or persons responsible for poisoning eight wolves in the eastern part of the state earlier this year. The Oregon State Police has been investigating the killing of all five members of the Catherine Pack in Union County, plus three other wolves from other packs, the agency said Thursday, per the AP. “To my knowledge this is the first wolf pack to be killed by poison in Oregon,” said Capt. Stephanie Bigman of the OSP in Salem. “To my knowledge there are no suspects. All investigative leads have been exhausted and that is why we are reaching out to the public for assistance.”

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Wolf advocates were stunned by the news. “This is horrific,” said Sristi Kamal of Defenders of Wildlife in Portland. “This is quite clearly an intentional and repeat offense.” Oregon has only about 170 wolves within its borders, and the loss of eight “is so egregious,” Kamal said. The Fish and Wildlife Division of the Oregon State Police was alerted on Feb. 9 that a collared wolf from the Catherine Pack was possibly deceased. Troopers responded and located five deceased wolves: three males and two females. The wolves were located southeast of Mount Harris, within Union County. Investigators also found a dead magpie in the vicinity of the wolves.

On March 11, State Police were told a mortality signal from an additional wolf collar had been received in the same general location. Searchers found a deceased female wolf, a skunk, and a magpie all close to the scene. The female wolf was determined to be a member of the Keating Pack. In April, the federal lab released findings consistent with poisoning as the cause of death for all six wolves, the skunk, and two magpies. In addition, two more collared wolves were found deceased in Union County after the initial incidents. Wolves once ranged most of the US but were wiped out in most places by the 1930s under government-sponsored poisoning and trapping campaigns.

(Read more wolves stories.)

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