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A wolf from the Chesnimnus Pack is caught on camera during the winter survey on U.S. Forest Service land in northern Wallowa County in December 2018. State investigators are searching for suspects after a 2-year-old female wolf that dispersed from the pack was found shot dead over the weekend.

By Kale Williams

Oregon State Police are asking for the public’s help as they search for someone who illegally shot and killed a wolf in Wallowa County.

A resident called state troopers Saturday morning after finding the wolf, a 2-year-old female fitted with a tracking collar, dead on Parsnip Creek Road, about 6 miles southeast of the town of Wallowa.

The wolf, known as OR 106 and who was not traveling with other animals after dispersing from the Chesnimnus Pack, was determined to have died of a gunshot wound, according to wildlife biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The wolf is one of several that have been poached in eastern Oregon in the past 12 months.

At least eight wolves were fatally poisoned in eastern Oregon over several months last year in Union County, just to the west of Wallowa County. A reward of nearly $50,000 has been offered for information that leads to a conviction in the poisoning case.

Tension between wolf advocates and ranchers, whose livestock has sometimes been preyed upon by the canids, has festered in Oregon since the animals began repopulating the state in the early 2000s. Debates on how best to resolve conflict have grown contentious at times.

Six wolves from the Lookout Mountain Pack, in Baker County, were killed by the state earlier this year after repeated attacks on livestock in the area.

Wolves have been under different levels of protection in the state as their population has grown since their return. The latest count, as measured at the end of 2020, put the minimum number of animals in Oregon at 173.

Last year, federal protections for wolves under the Endangered Species Act were rescinded by the Trump administration, though advocates for the animals have sued to have the animal’s protected status reinstated.

After the most recent poaching, Amoroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, called for a special prosecutor in Oregon to look into the issue. She said at least 30 wolves have been illegally killed over the past two decades with only three successful prosecutions.

“This wolf’s lonely death highlights why Oregon needs to establish a special prosecutor’s office for wildlife-related crime,” Weiss said in a statement. “Oregon’s wolves are in extreme danger from illegal killings, and the killers often escape consequences. The state needs to do much more to investigate and punish these sickening crimes.”

State investigators asked anyone with information regarding this case to call the Oregon State Police tip line at 1-800-452-7888, by dialing OSP (677) or by email at TIP@state.or.us., referencing case # SP22006179.

— Kale Williams; kwilliams@oregonian.com; 503-294-4048; @sfkale

via Wolf illegally shot in eastern Oregon; state police looking for suspects | The Oregonian