SEATTLE — Conservation and animal welfare groups today announced a combined $30,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for the illegal killing of four wolves in northeast Washington earlier this year.
Stevens County Sheriff’s Office deputies discovered four dead wolves on Feb. 18 while on snowmobile patrol. An incident report says deputies reported the deaths immediately to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, but heard nothing from the agency. Department staff said for the first time this week that they are actively investigating dead wolves in Stevens County, but did not provide further details.
The report found no evidence of bullet holes or physical trauma in the wolves, suggesting their deaths may have been the result of poisoning.
“This is devastating news for Washington’s wolves, and every senseless killing must be fully investigated,” said Sophia Ressler, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If poachers are allowed to get away with it, that only encourages them to kill again. Fish and Wildlife must follow up and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The Department chose to paint a glowing picture of the recovery of wolves in Washington, rather than being honest with the public about this tragedy,” said Samantha Bruegger, executive director of Washington Wildlife First. “The public and the wolves deserve better. We call on the Department to be open with the public about the extent of illegal wolf killing in the state, and we ask the public to provide all information possible to assist in this investigation.
“If this is in fact a poisoning situation, putting poison in the landscape for any unsuspecting creature to feed on is one of the most disgusting things a person can do,” said said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, a national nonprofit organization. band. “It’s not just about killing wolves. It is also wanting them to suffer. Poisons also pose a serious threat to other wildlife and pets and pose a risk to public safety.
“WDFW likes to brag widely about its wolf recovery efforts, while continually hiding key information about wolf damage from the public,” said Steph Taylor, president of Speak for Wolves. “Washington has a poaching problem and wildlife managers need to be more responsible when it comes to promoting education about coexistence with endangered native species. They also need to step up their game by keeping these poachers out. Otherwise, this shoot, shovel, and close culture will continue to thrive.
“For the past few years, the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) has criticized wolf recovery efforts in Washington because those efforts have been accompanied by politics every step of the way,” said NARN President Rachel Bjork. . “The fact that we are hearing about these wolf deaths months later, and not directly from the WDFW, leads us to believe that the department has no real interest in being publicly accountable.”
“We are disgusted by this unlawful killing of wolves and disappointed with the Department’s handling of it,” said Jocelyn Leroux, Washington and Montana director at the Western Watersheds Project. “The wolves of Washington deserve better treatment and the people of Washington deserve transparency.”
The $30,000 reward is offered by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Animal Rights Network, Predator Defense, Speak for Wolves, Washington Wildlife First and Western Watersheds Project.
Anyone who may have information regarding the incident should call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at (360) 902-2928, visit the department’s website and report a violation, or text WDFWTIP to 847411.