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OR-25 wolf killed near Fort Klamath

Three wolf killing investigations open in region

A reward of $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest or criminal conviction of whomever is responsible for the death of a gray wolf on or around Oct. 29.

The male gray wolf, identified as OR-25, was found dead near Fort Klamath on the Sun Pass State Forest. Originally part of the Imnaha Pack in northeast Oregon, the male wolf dispersed the pack in 2015, traveling to Klamath County by August of that year.

For the past two years OR-25 has spent much of its time in Klamath County, periodically relocating to Lake and Jackson counties in Oregon, as well as Modoc and Siskiyou counties in California.

The wolf was collared as a yearling, and was 4-1/2 years old at the time of its death. Recent wildlife camera images of OR-25 showed the possibility of the wolf pairing with a non-collared female.

OR-25 had been involved in two depredation incidents, the first in Klamath County in the fall of 2015, and one in Jackson County in February of this year. Though its collar batteries had been fading, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists had continued to track the wolf, which spent much of this year in the Wood River Valley and Williamson Valley north of Klamath Falls.

It is a violation of the Endangered Species Act to kill a gray wolf, which is listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of Oregon. It is also a violation of Oregon state game laws. The Oregon State Police and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are investigating the incident. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) December 2016 population count, there are a minimum of 112 wolves in the state, a 75 percent increase since December 2013.

“We are concerned about recent killings of wolves in this region,” said John Heil, deputy assistant regional director of external affairs for USFWS.

“We are working with ODFW and Oregon State Police in the investigation, and we collaborate with landowners regarding wolf activity. Education is important, such as non-lethal measures to avoid depredation, as wolf populations are increasing and expanding their range. We expect that to continue.”

There are currently three open investigations in Oregon regarding wolf killings. Recently a $5,000 reward was also offered for information leading to the arrest of individuals involved in the gunshot death of OR-33, a gray wolf discovered in the Fremont-Winema National Forest on April 23. On Oct. 6, 2016, OR-28, a 3-year-old female gray wolf, was found dead and reported as illegally killed in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near Summer Lake.

In addition to the reward by USFWS for information about the poaching, conservation groups are offering an additional $10,500 combined for information leading to a conviction.

More recently, a wolf was killed in the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit in Union County on Oct. 27 by an elk hunter, who self-reported the incident. The case will not be prosecuted as state law and wildlife officials believe it to be an incidence of self-defense.

Killing of a protected gray wolf is a federal offense, punishable by up to a $100,000 fine, a year in jail, or both. The maximum state penalty is a fine of $6,250 and a year in jail.

The presence of gray wolves has been a controversial issue since the endangered species was re-introduced to Oregon. According to state wildlife officials, there have been 141 livestock or domestic animals killed by wolves since being reintroduced in the late 1990s.

Anyone with information about this case should call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 503-682-6131, or Oregon State Police Tip Line at -800-452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.




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