Eight wolves were fatally poisoned in Oregon’s eastern region earlier this year — and state police are still hunting for a suspect.
Five members of the Catherine Pack in Union County and three wolves from other packs were found dead between February and July, cops said in a press release on Thursday.
“To my knowledge, this is the first wolf pack to be killed by poison in Oregon,” Capt. Stephanie Bigman of the OSP in Salem told the Associated Press.
Bigman said there are no suspects and that all leads have been exhausted.
“That is why we are reaching out to the public for assistance,” she said.
Only about 170 wolves live within the state’s borders. Several conservation groups have pooled together and are offering a cash reward of $2,600 for any information leading to a conviction in the poisonings.
In February, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division Troopers responded to reports of a dead collared wolf in the area southeast of Mount Harris. Police found the five dead Catherine Pack wolves, three males and two females. A dead magpie was also found in the area.
A month later, troopers found a dead female wolf from the Keating Pack in the same area. A skunk and a magpie were also discovered close to the scene.
Officials said their initial investigation was hampered due to snowfall in the area.
In April USFWS confirmed that the cause of the death in each of the animals’ was due to poison.
Two more collared wolves were later found dead in Union County: a male from the Five Points Pack in April and a young female from the Clark Creek Pack in July.
A toxicology report revealed two different types of poisoning in each wolf. Police determined the death of the young female wolf may be related to the earlier six poisonings.
The majority of the US wolf population was wiped out in the 1930s through government-sponsored poisoning and trapping campaigns.
More than 2,000 wolves still occupy six states in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest after they were re-introduced from Canada in the 1990s.
Conservationists and wolf advocates were outraged by the Oregon poisonings.
“This is horrific,” Sristi Kamal of Defenders of Wildlife in Portland told the AP. “This is quite clearly an intentional and repeat offense.”
“The poisoning of the Catherine wolf pack is tragic and disgusting” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “No wolf should have to suffer such a fate. Awful events like this show how much more work is needed for us to coexist with these vitally important animals.”
With Post wires
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