PORTLAND, Ore.— Conservation organizations are bolstering a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services reward for information on the illegal killing of OR-33, a federally protected gray wolf in southwestern Oregon. The Service has offered a $5,000 reward, and five conservation organizations have contributed an additional $10,500, bringing the total to $15,500.
Since 2015 at least eight wolves have been poached or died under mysterious circumstances in Oregon. Those include OR-33, OR-28, OR-22, OR-34, OR-31, an uncollared sub-adult wolf from the Walla Walla pack, and two wolves known as the Sled Springs pair. Poaching is an acute problem in Oregon, which demands serious attention from lawmakers and wildlife management officials — to strengthen and enforce wildlife laws, and to deter and fully prosecute criminals.
“Poaching is a huge and growing problem in Oregon. We need everyone’s help to catch this killer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation groups alike are working together to bring justice for OR-33, and send a message that this vile act won’t be tolerated in our state,” said Quinn Read, Northwest representative of Defenders of Wildlife.
“We can only hope that this reward helps stop the next protected wolf from being killed,” said Joseph Vaile, executive director at the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.
“This is a heartbreaking loss for Oregon’s wolves. Wolf recovery in Oregon depends on wolves like OR-33 making their way west and thriving, so his death is a major setback. We hope someone will do the right thing and come forward with information,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We are helping contribute to the reward fund in the hopes of finding the perpetrator and bringing them to justice. Going forward, we encourage the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to take wolf poaching more seriously,” said Danielle Moser, wildlife coordinator for Oregon Wild.
“The senseless killing of one of Oregon’s iconic wolves is an appalling and serious crime. We are grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their diligent efforts to find those responsible and bring the offender or offenders to justice,” said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director for the Humane Society of the United States.
Anyone with information about this case should call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (503) 682-6131 or Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888.
OR-33 was found dead of gunshot wounds near Klamath Falls on April 23. Details about this illegal killing were released on Oct. 11 after the Fish and Wildlife Service completed a necropsy.
OR-33 was a 4-year-old male gray wolf. He dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in northeast Oregon in November 2015. Although he had a collar, it stopped functioning in August 2016.
Killing a gray wolf in the western two-thirds of Oregon is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. It is also a violation of Oregon state game laws and is subject to both criminal and civil penalties. The investigation of this crime is being conducted by the Oregon State Police and the Fish and Wildlife Service.