A $7,500 reward will be offered this afternoon for information leading to a conviction in the case of a wolf found dead under “suspicious circumstances” in northern Stevens County earlier this month.
“It died as a result of a gunshot wound,” reported Capt. Dan Rahn of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife late this morning on the results of an autopsy performed this week.
While wolves in this part of Eastern Washington are federally delisted, they remain under state endangered species protections statewide.
The collared female wolf was found Feb. 9. It was one of three Smackout Pack wolves that were captured and given tracking devices in February 2013. The pack broke up last summer, then reformed, but this animal was traveling by itself in this particular area, according to WDFW.
Rahn says anyone with tips can call agency’s poaching hotline (877-933-9847), report on the agency’s website, or call the Spokane office (509-892-1001) during business hours.
The reward is being funded by Conservation Northwest, which has strong ties to the Smackouts and the range-riding program used the past two summers to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts on a local rancher’s grazing allotment.
Wolf collars are “used to guide the conflict avoidance activities of a range rider funded by Conservation Northwest and WDFW, and featured in the Spokesman Review. The collars are also used to trigger the wolf-scaring sounds and lights of Radio-Activated Guard (RAG) boxes stationed near livestock grazing areas,” the organization said in a press release.
Rich Landers at the Spokane paper reports that wildlife officials can’t recall such a large offer for info on a poaching case in Eastern Washington; a search of our archives turned up $5,000 for a spree deer-killing incident in western Lincoln County that occurred last February as well as offers of $2,500 for trophy bucks. Over $20,000 was offered for four bald eagles shot last winter in Snohomish County.
The wolf is at least the fifth in Washington to die or disappear under suspicious circumstances. At least two were illegally killed by the Bill and Tom White of Twisp, the collared alpha female of the original Lookout Pack unexpectedly went off the air in spring 2010, and a carcass was found in the upper Skagit River basin. Four others have wandered into Canada and been legally killed, trapped or lethally removed for livestock depredations.
Shooting a wolf attacking livestock or pets is allowed without a permit from WDFW in the eastern third of the state; they must be reported within 24 hours. Illegally killing one is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and or a year in jail.
In early March, WDFW will post its 2013 year-end wolf population estimate.