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Reward fund grows to $36,000 in fatal poisoning of Eastern Oregon wolf pack

Catherine Pack breeding male caught on trail camera on Dec. 11, 2020
Catherine Pack breeding male caught on trail camera on Dec. 11, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Three conservation groups said Monday they have added $10,000 to the reward for information leading to a conviction in the poisoning and killing of eight gray wolves in Eastern Oregon earlier this year, bringing the total fund to $36,000.

On Feb. 9, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division troopers found the five members of the Catherine wolf pack — three male, two female — dead at a location southeast of Mount Harris in Union County. On March 11, troopers detected a mortality signal in the same location and found a slain wolf: a radio-collared female who had dispersed from the Keating pack.

Two more collared wolves were subsequently found dead in Union County. In April an adult male wolf from the Five Points pack was discovered west of Elgin, and in July a young female wolf from the Clark Creek pack was found northeast of La Grande.

According to the Oregon State Police, toxicology reports confirmed the presence of differing types of poison in both wolves. Investigators determined that the death of the young female wolf might be related to the earlier six poisonings.

The additional $10,000 in reward funds are being offered by Wolves of the Rockies, Montana Trap Free and The 06 Legacy Project. The other groups contributing to the total reward are the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, Oregon Wild, Predator Defense and WildEarth Guardians.

“We were heartbroken to hear of these horrific and inhumane killings, and condemn in the strongest terms this atrocity,” said Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies. “But this slaughter did not occur in a vacuum. We hope to see those responsible for the illegal killings brought to justice. To further this aim Wolves of the Rockies, Trap Free Montana, and The 06 Legacy Project are increasing the award by an additional $10,000. Lastly, we urge the federal government to take action to protect the species by restoring wolves to the Endangered Species List.”

“In 21 years, 31 Oregon wolves have been poisoned, shot or trapped illegally, but only three of those instances have resulted in convictions,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Scientists who study illegal wolf killings conclude that for every poached wolf discovered, there are likely two or three more that will never be found. The state has started to take poaching more seriously, but it’s not enough. People kill wolves because they hate them or fear them, and there’s never been an adequate public-education program in Oregon or any state to combat this misplaced mindset.”

Marc Cooke, president of the non-profit advocate group Wolves of the Rockies, rallied supporters to contribute to a reward.

"Poisoning is a horrific way to die and shows a blatant disregard of respect that we should have for our wolves and all wildlife," he said.

Wildlife advocates closer to the scene agree.

"We are furious and appalled," said Sristi Kamal, senior northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife. "Such a targeted attack against these incredible creatures is unacceptable and we hope our reward will help bring the criminals who did this to justice."

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888 or *OSP (677) or TIP E-Mail: Callers may remain anonymous.

Oregon anti-poaching advocates sponsor reward programs through the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line, which is a collaboration among state police, state wildlife officials, hunting organizations and conservation groups.

In 2019, state legislators created the Stop Poaching campaign, to bring awareness of Oregon's poaching problem, and educate members of the public on how to report poaching.

"Poachers steal natural resources that belong to all of us," said campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw.

Reward so far for information that leads to an arrest or citation in the case of the Catherine pack poisoning, along with the additional likely related case of three additional wolves, includes:

Wolves of the Rockies: $10,000
Oregon Wild: $5000
Center for Biological Diversity: $5000
Humane Society of the United States: $5000
Defenders of Wildlife: $2500
Northeast Oregon Ecosystem: $2500
Predator Defense: $5000
Cascadia Wildlands: $500
Wild Earth Guardians: $500

Members of the public who wish to donate to the reward fund may do so by following this link:

If state officials are unable to close this case, donations will revert to the Oregon Wildlife Coalition TIP fund for future rewards for information on people who destroy fish, wildlife, or their habitat.

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. Oregon Hunters Association and Oregon Wildlife Coalition manage the TIP funds. This campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Contact campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw for more information.

Article Topic Follows: Wildlife

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