Washington

Did poachers shoot two wolves in Eastern Washington?

FILE - This March 13, 2014 file photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a female wolf from the Minam pack outside La Grande, Ore., after it was fitted with a tracking collar.
FILE - This March 13, 2014 file photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a female wolf from the Minam pack outside La Grande, Ore., after it was fitted with a tracking collar. AP

State wildlife officials and conservationists are looking into the shooting deaths of two wolves, including at least one with a radio collar, in northeastern Washington this past month, according to officials.

Conservation Northwest said it is offering a $10,000 reward for information that proves the wolves were poached and leads to a conviction.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said one of the wolves was found in Stevens County after a radio collar stopped working in November. The carcass was found in the area where the collar was last working, according to Chase Gunnell, the communications director for Conservation Northwest.

The conversation group has said the wolves were poached. WDFW is asking anyone with information about the incident to call wildlife police and 1-877-933-9847 or contact their enforcement hotline.

No matter how one feels about wolves or other wildlife, poaching is an unacceptable theft of our shared natural heritage.

Chase Gunnell, the communications director for Conservation Northwest

Details of the second wolf death were not immediately available.

“Because this is an area we worked in directly … it’s particularly egregious that someone would take this upon themselves to kill these wolves,” Gunnell said, referring to work the group has done to help ranchers and wolves coexist.

The wolves, both female, were members of the Smackout and Dirty Shirt packs, Gunnell said. They were found in late November. At least one of the wolves was found in Stevens County.

The deaths come a week after the state issued a report stating that wolf populations were not hurting the numbers of elk, deer and other game.

“No matter how one feels about wolves or other wildlife, poaching is an unacceptable theft of our shared natural heritage,” Gunnell said.

Stevens County Commissioner Don Dashiell, a rancher and member of the state’s Wolf Advisory Group, said Sunday that he had not seen any evidence yet that the wolves were killed illegally.

“I’m having a hard time using the word ‘poached’ at this point,” he said. “I don’t think there are people out there just killing wolves.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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