Oregon Wolf Shot Dead in Latest in Series of State Killings

A wolf in Oregon was found shot dead on the morning of February 15 in the latest in a series of killings of wolves in the state.

The collared female wolf, known as OR-109, was found around 3.5 miles south of Cove in Union County in the northeast of the state. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers found the wolf after receiving a tip off alerting them to the body.

The OSP is now appealing for the public's help in locating the person or people responsible for killing OR-109. An image released showed the wolf's body lying in the snow with visible injuries.

Wolf hunting and trapping is illegal in Oregon, and gray wolves are a protected species under state law. The animals were controversially removed from the Endangered Species Act during the Trump administration. However, a federal judge restored national protections for the animals across much of the Western U.S. in a ruling earlier this month. The judge said that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to prove that wolf populations could be sustained without federal protection.

Under government policies that targeted the animals in the 19th and 20th centuries, gray wolves were hunted to near extinction until their inclusion in the Endangered Species Act in 1973.

There were at least 173 gray wolves in Oregon at the last official count at the end of 2020.

A range of conservation groups including Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity have donated a total of $22,500 as a reward for information that can help law enforcement investigating the killing of OR-109.

Yvonne Shaw from the ODFW's Stop Poaching Campaign told Newsweek: "Poachers steal fish and wildlife from all Oregonians. People who poach often do so for the thrill of the kill, unfortunately.

"Hopefully the rewards offered by conservation groups will give Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers the leads they need to solve the case."

OSP image shows dead wolf OR-109
OSP image shows dead wolf OR-109. Police and ODFW officials found the wolf in a field about 3.5 miles south of Cove, Oregon. OSP

OR-109 is the latest wolf to be found shot dead in Oregon. A two-year-old wolf pup known as OR-106 was found on January 8, having been shot and killed in a suspected poaching incident in Wallowa County.

Conservation group the Center for Biological Diversity reported prior to the killing of OR-109 that 30 wolves have been illegally killed in Oregon over the past 21 years.

At least 10 of these took place last year.

Eight were poisoned to death in Union County in February 2021, including five from the same pack. Two other wolves died in separate suspected killings in April and July. Both were found with poison in their systems.

After the January 8 killing, conservationists including the Western Watersheds Project urged Governor Kate Brown to investigate the recent wave of unexplained killing of wolves in the state.

The Center for Biological Diversity said that arrests and convictions happened in just three of the 30 cases.

Update 25/02/2022, 10:36a.m. ET: This article was updated to include quotes from ODFW and information on a cash reward.

Stock image of a gray wolf
Stock image of a gray wolf. The animals have been targeted in a series of suspected poaching incidents in Oregon. hkuchera/Getty Images