SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — Nonprofit groups have combined efforts to pledge nearly $50,000 in rewards for information that leads to an arrest or citation related to the poisoning of Eastern Oregon’s Catherine wolf pack and other wolves earlier this year.
Members of the public have also contributed over $1,000 to the fund, and the Oregon Hunters Association pledged the standard amount of $500, bringing the current total to $47,736.
Pledges started pouring in two weeks ago when Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife division announced finding all five members of the Catherine wolf pack dead of poisoning last February. Troopers located the carcasses while responding to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wildlife biologist requests to verify a mortality signal emitted from a Catherine wolf’s tracking collar. Troopers located the deceased collared wolf, along with the carcasses of the other four members of the Catherine pack, in close proximity.
Troopers collected the animals from the scene, located southeast of Mount Harris in Union County, and delivered them to the forensics lab in Corvallis for analysis. Lab results confirmed that the two female and three male wolves all died from poison.
Between February and March, troopers located an additional three wolves, two magpie and a skunk, and delivered them to forensics labs for testing. In each case, the labs confirmed poison as cause of death. Officials have indicated that the cases are likely related but have not released information on the type of poison ingested by the animals, or if all the animals ingested the same kind of poison.
"Poisoning is a horrific way to die and shows a blatant disregard and respect that we should have for our wolves and all wildlife," said Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies. Wolves of the Rockies, Trap Free Montana and The 06 Legacy Project contributed $10,000 to the reward fund.
Reward funds, like those managed by OHA and the Oregon Wildlife Coalition, provide an incentive for members of the public to report crimes, according to ODFW Stop Poaching campaign coordinator, Yvonne Shaw.
“When rewards get to this level — a level that can make significant changes in a person’s life — they might stop to consider something they heard or saw,” she said. “This could be the down payment on a house, or an investment in a college education. It’s a new truck. Or a new start.”
Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, says, “The poisoning of Oregon’s wolves is a dark event in wolf recovery, but these ever-increasing reward pledges offer a ray of hope that those responsible will be arrested and prosecuted.”
The Stop Poaching Campaign educates the public on how to recognize and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration among hunters, conservationists, land owners and recreationists. Our goal is to increase reporting of wildlife crimes through the TIP Line, increase detection by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers and increase prosecution. This campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations.