The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed that a female wolf was illegally killed in northeast Washington in May. According to WDFW biologists, the wolf is believed to be the breeding female from the Wedge Pack.
“Poaching is a serious crime against wildlife, our natural heritage and the communities who depend on our wild lands,” said Dr. Kathleen Gobush, Northwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife. The killing of this breeding female wolf, and ostensibly her pups, in the beleaguered Wedge territory is a setback for Washington state wolf recovery. There is a pressing need for a thorough investigation and illegally killing wolves must not go unpunished.”
WDFW biologists and enforcement staff responded to a report of a dead wolf found in the Sheep Creek area of Stevens County on May 26. Their investigation revealed that the female wolf died from a gunshot wound.
Defenders of Wildlife is offering a reward of $2500 for information leading to a poaching conviction in this case. In addition, other wildlife conservation organizations, including Conservation Northwest, are also offering a reward for information regarding this poaching incident. Anyone who might have information regarding the incident is encouraged to call WDFW at 360-902-2928, visit the department’s website by clicking on violations, or text WDFWTIP to 847411.
Washington is home to at least 132 wolves and 13 breeding pairs, according to the Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan 2020 Annual Report, released in April by WDFW. The population continues to increase each year and disperse across the state. In 2019, WDFW counted at least 108 wolves and 10 breeding pairs in Washington. However, Defenders continues to focus on long-term coexistence strategies that are essential to allow wolves to continue dispersing throughout their historic range.
By the early 1900s, wolves were eradicated in the Pacific Northwest because of government-sponsored bounties, trappings and poisoning campaigns. In the 2000s, wolves began to return naturally to the state from British Columbia, Idaho and western Montana.