Cow Carcass Used To Poison More NE OR Wolves – Golden Eagles, Other Wildlife Also Die


The target was likely a wolf, the latest poisoning in a disturbing trend that has killed 19 wolves in Oregon since 2015. Whatever the target, the collateral damage in northeast Oregon’s ongoing poisoning cases now includes golden eagles, dogs, and other carnivores.  

The latest case was announced by Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division (OSP F&W) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today. Poison killed three wolves from the South Snake Pack including the breeding male and female and a juvenile, along with two golden eagles, a cougar and a coyote in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area managed by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (more about this case below).


OSP F&W also announced several poisoning incidents in the region that have killed domestic dogs. Veterinarians have confirmed one case of a domestic dog being poisoned that occurred about nine miles north of Enterprise in April. Another recent suspected poisoning case involving a dog was investigated six miles north of Imnaha. 

With the toll rising and as the region’s busy season for outdoor recreation gets underway, ODFW is warning people to take precautions. Hikers, mushroom pickers, wildlife watchers, hunters and anglers should take steps to protect their pets, wildlife and natural resources when recreating in northeast Oregon:

  • Keep your dog on a leash and under control. Don’t let them eat anything they find in the forest.
  • Learn what to carry to induce vomiting in your dog before venturing out—ask your veterinarian for advice. If you suspect that your pet may have been poisoned, visit a veterinarian immediately.   
  • Watch for dead birds or mammals (scavengers) which can indicate poison.
  • Know what a poisoned carcass looks like. This may be tricky to spot but watch for substances on the carcass that seem unnatural (powders or strange colors). 
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious bait. An unnatural item in the woods such as a meat ball or piece of steak could be an indicator that someone is trying to poison wildlife in the area. 
  • Don’t approach anyone who you suspect of poisoning. Get some details such as license plate, description of vehicle and persons, date, and time of the incident. 

If you see something suspicious, contact Oregon State Police at *OSP.

Poison required special clean-up
Typically, the most important equipment wildlife biologists carry into the field is a good set of binoculars and a clipboard. 

But ODFW staff donned Tyvek suits, respirators, layers of gloves and eye protection in a mission to get the toxic cow carcass out of the forest before it could kill more wildlife.

The incident first unfolded on February 3, when ODFW received a mortality alert for a collared wolf in the remote Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Flying into the area of the signal, they confirmed that the breeding female of the pack was dead. Later, the dead breeding male and a juvenile were also located.

The true toll took several more weeks to uncover, as ODFW and OSP F&W continued to find dead animals (the golden eagles, cougar and coyote) and a dead Steller’s jay and black-billed magpie next to the cow carcass.

An on-the-ground search was needed to find the source of the poison and after hiking for a full day, ODFW and OSP F&W found a cow carcass laced with poison in a creek in the Imnaha River drainage.

Poison presents a risk to wildlife, pets, water and other natural resources. Some can break down slowly and remain dangerous in the environment for long periods of time. Some poisons are toxic to both wildlife and people, not biodegradable, and can have long-lasting harmful effects on aquatic life.

Leaving the poisoned carcass in the creek to kill more wildlife was not an option but it needed to be removed without endangering staff doing the dirty work. ODFW coordinated with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop a plan to extract the carcass while protecting the health of staff.  

“The safety of ODFW staff is our top priority, and we thank DEQ for their guidance that helped us get this poison off the landscape for the safety of wildlife, in a way that didn’t jeopardize the health of our staff,” said Bernadette Graham-Hudson, ODFW wildlife division administrator. 

Dressed in hazmat gear, ODFW staff managed to get the heavy carcass (cows typically weigh 700-1,000 pounds) onto a tarp and then into a net. It was then long-lined out of the creek by helicopter. ODFW staff then drove it to a facility in Arlington, Ore. that could handle toxic waste to dispose of it, per guidance from DEQ.

“Northeast Oregon is known for its natural resources and outdoor opportunities, so it’s just terrible to have this going on,” said Graham-Hudson. “We hope whoever is poisoning wildlife is quickly caught and punished for the safety of people, wildlife, and pets in northeast Oregon.”

Poisoning a wolf is a Class C Felony in Oregon, punishable by up to a $125,000 fine and up to five years in prison, subject to the sentencing guidelines (ORS 161.625 and 161.605). Poaching federally protected wildlife such as golden eagles, or poaching multiple animals, also elevates the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony, according to new sentencing guidelines passed by the Oregon State Legislature in 2019.

Judges decide sentencing on a case-by-case basis, upon advisement by prosecuting attorneys. Statutory fine amounts for illegal take of wildlife indicate a maximum fine of $5,000 for each golden eagle or other protected raptor and $1,000 each for game animals. Judges may require convicted subjects to reimburse costs for seizing, storing and disposing of wildlife.

Courts can also confiscate weapons used in crimes against fish and wildlife, and revoke hunting and fishing privileges.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of $25,000 for information that leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, or civil penalty for the poisoning of the wolves and golden eagles. Oregon’s Turn in Poachers (TIP) program offers preference points and cash rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take of wildlife and the Oregon Wildlife Coalition is offering $11,500 for information about this case. 


The Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement to investigate the unlawful poisoning of three gray wolves, two golden eagles, a mountain lion, and a coyote in the Imnaha River drainage in February of 2024 (link to USFWS Press Release). It should be noted that the suspected source of poison was removed from the landscape by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to prevent further poisonings. 

In addition to the aforementioned incident, the OSP Fish & Wildlife Division is also asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the person(s) responsible for the unlawful take of additional gray wolves, and the killing of domestic dogs in several other locations in Wallowa County, OR:

  1. During the months of July and October of 2023, F&W Troopers responded to the unlawful take of two wolves respectively, which had been poisoned within the Chesnimnus Wildlife Management Unit, approximately 30 miles northeast of Enterprise, OR. The poisonings and cause of death were confirmed through the Clark R. Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory.
  2. During April 2024, F&W Troopers responded to the unlawful take of a wolf, which is suspected of being poisoned in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit, approximately 5 miles west of Troy, OR. Investigators are awaiting a confirmed cause of death from the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory.
  3. During April 2024, F&W Troopers responded to a domestic dog which was poisoned and within the Sled Springs Wildlife Management. This location is approximately 9 miles north of Enterprise, OR. The poisoning was confirmed through a veterinary clinic.
  4. During late April 2024, F&W Troopers responded to another domestic dog which is suspected of being poisoned within the Snake River Management Unit. This location is approximately 6 miles north of Imnaha, OR. 

Anyone with information regarding these cases is urged to contact OSP Senior Trooper Sean Carothers through the Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or dial *OSP (mobile).  TIPs can remain anonymous. 

** Report Wildlife and Habitat Law Violators** 

The Turn In Poachers (TIP) program is a collaboration between the Oregon State Police, Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Wildlife Coalition, Oregon Outfitter and Guides Association, and the Oregon State Marine Board. 

The TIP program offers preference point rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of the following big game mammals. 

Preference Point Rewards:

*5 Points-Bighorn Sheep

*5 Points-Rocky Mountain Goat

*5 Points-Moose

*5 Points-Wolf

*4 Points-Elk

*4 Points-Deer

*4 Points-Pronghorn Antelope

*4 Points-Bear

*4 Points-Cougar

The TIP program also offers cash rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of the following fish and wildlife species. Cash rewards can also be awarded for habitat destruction, illegally obtaining hunting or angling license or tag, lending or borrowing big game tags, spotlighting, or snagging.


Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) Cash Rewards:

$2,000 Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat or Moose 

$1,000 Elk, Deer or Antelope 

$600 Bear, Cougar or Wolf

$300 Habitat Destruction 

$200 Illegally obtaining Oregon hunting or angling license or tags

$200 Unlawful Lending/Borrowing Big Game Tag(s)

$200 Game Fish & Shellfish

$200 Game Birds or Furbearers

$200 Spotlighting

$200 Snagging/Attempt to Snag

Oregon Wildlife Coalition (OWC) Cash Rewards:

$500 Hawk, Falcon, Eagle, Owl, Osprey

$500 Cougar, Bobcat, Beaver (public lands only), Black bears, Bighorn Sheep, Marten, Fisher, Sierra Nevada Red Fox

$1,000 Species listed as “threatened” or “endangered” under state or federal Endangered Species Act (excludes fish) 

$11,500 Wolf

Oregon Outfitters & Guides Association (OOGA) Cash Rewards

$200 Acting as an Outfitter Guide for the Illegal Killing of Wildlife, Illegally Obtaining Oregon Hunting or Angling Licenses or Tags, or Illegally Offering to Act as an Outfitter Guide as defined in ORS 704.010 and 704.020.

How to Report a Wildlife and/or Habitat Law Violation or Suspicious Activity: 

TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (*677)
TIP email:  (Monitored M-F 8:00AM – 5:00PM)


PORTLAND, Oregon – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Oregon State Police (OSP) are seeking information regarding the illegal killing of three gray wolves and two golden eagles in Wallowa County in Eastern Oregon. The deaths occurred in an area of known wolf activity, as defined by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The Service is offering a $25,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, or civil penalty assessment.

From February through March, OSP Troopers located the remains of the wolves, eagles, a cougar and a coyote in the Lightning Creek drainage, a tributary to the Imnaha River. This location is within the Snake River Wildlife Management Unit and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, approximately 11 miles northeast of the town of Imnaha, Oregon. Testing and examinations conducted by the Clark R. Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory determined the female gray wolf, male gray wolf and uncollared gray juvenile wolf, two golden eagles, cougar and coyote were poisoned.

Wallowa County is located east of Highway 395 where gray wolves are not listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act but are protected by Oregon state law. Eagles are federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. 

The Service and OSP are conducting a joint investigation in cooperation with ODFW. Anyone with information about this case should call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (503) 682-6131, or Oregon State Police Dispatch at (800) 452-7888, *OSP (*677) or email Callers may remain anonymous. To report a wildlife crime to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, members of the public can also do so online at