Washington wolf managers report that six wolves found dead in northern Stevens County this past winter “died from ingesting poison.”
The figure is two more animals than previously disclosed. Four were found during a county border patrol in February and two more were discovered by WDFW during additional searches of the area, according to the state agency.
Little information on the investigation has been made public until WDFW this morning released its September monthly wolf report, but poisoning was suspected when official word first emerged in late May.
The illegal killing of a wolf in Washington, a state endangered species, is punishable by penalties of $5,000 and/or a year in prison.
“The investigation remains active, and the Department encourages anyone who might have relevant information to report it confidentially by calling WDFW’s poaching hotline, 877-933-9847, or by texting a tip to 847411,” state wolf managers stated.
WDFW also reports there is also a $51,100 reward for information on the case that leads to a conviction, with funding provided by eight environmental and conservation organizations.
“It is deeply disturbing that even with the use of publicly funded deterrents and state intervention in response to depredations, there is still a situation where someone felt compelled to do this,” said Paula Swedeen of Conservation Northwest, which is offering $10,000.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that somebody would take matters into their own hands,” Scott Nielsen, head of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, toldThe Center Square.
The poisonings are similar to a late winter 2021 case in Northeast Oregon where ultimately eight wolves were found dead, including five Catherine Pack members.
At last word a $50,000-plus reward was also offered for information in the Oregon case, though monetary offers are said to be useless in wolf poaching cases, according to an early June article by Northwestern Outdoors Radio host John Kruse in the Goldendale Sentinel.
“Typically, we get to the stage of offering rewards for information when there are no avenues of investigation remaining for law enforcement,” WDFW wolf policy lead Julia Smith also told the Methow Valley News in June.
While much remains hazy about this particular poisoning case, what is crystal-clear is that the area the wolves were found is the absolute white-hottest point of the wolf front in the Evergreen State.
Over the last decade, Wedge Pack wolves have been associated with chronic cattle depredations, the near-full lethal removal of the pack by WDFW sharpshooters, pack reformations due to the area’s excellent habitat and available prey, more attacks, subsequent removals, wolf advocates’ campaign and threats against the Diamond M Ranch, and a former Washington State University professor’s inflammatory statements about where the operation allegedly turned out its cattle – words that led to all sorts of hell, and all over.
WDFW’s September report also notes that another wolf death, this one in the Vulcan Pack territory of Ferry County, is also under investigation.
Two other wolves – a Dominion Pack adult female and Smackout pup – were killed last month by cougars and a third – a Smackout adult female – by a moose.
State wolf managers say they have documented 20 wolf deaths this year, including three last month during WDFW lethal removals in response to chronic cattle depredations.
Prior to today’s news, during last Friday’s Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, members gave a head nod to move ahead on a “blue sheet” request from Lorna Smith to get an update from WDFW staff on wolf poachings, caught-in-the-act shootings, the effectiveness of nonlethal wolf-livestock conflict prevention efforts, and lethal removals.