Saturday, May 5, 2012

PENDLETON: Wolf killed illegally

POSTED: Thursday, May. 03, 2012

PENDLETON (AP) — Authorities say they believe a carcass found in northeastern Oregon was a wild wolf killed illegally, but they are not yet saying just how it was killed.

The Oregon State Police say the 97-pound animal was found in mid-March on private land near Cove, east of La Grande on the flanks of the Wallowa Mountains, by a couple out walking. It had been dead a week, the East Oregonian reported.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife forensics laboratory in Caldwell, Idaho, performed tests, determining the cause of death was a criminal act, state police said. But investigators did not divulge the results.

Meanwhile, the carcass was sent to the University of Idaho for genetic testing, to determine whether it was a purebred wolf, a pet, or a wolf-dog cross, said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy. The results will also tell them whether the animal was from one of Oregon’s established wolf packs, or somewhere else. Wolves started moving into Oregon from Idaho in the late 1990s after packs were introduced into the Northern Rockies as part of a federal restoration program.

One pack in Wallowa County has occasionally preyed on livestock, angering some ranchers.
The Oregon Court of Appeals last year blocked the state from carrying out a kill order on two wolves from the Imnaha pack, ruling that conservation groups had a good chance of succeeding with a legal claim that state protections for endangered species overruled a management plan that allows wolves to be killed to reduce livestock attacks.

Oregon has an estimated two dozen wolves, in four packs. Most are in northeastern Oregon, although one, OR-7, has gotten widespread attention for his travels to southwest Oregon and California.
The state police say the state Endangered Species Act protects wolves in all parts of Oregon: They can’t be killed except in the defense of human life or with a special permit. They are protected by federal law in western Oregon.

Under state law, killing a wolf is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $6,250, the police said.

Besides those killed by government agents to keep them from preying on livestock, several have been found dead since the packs began establishing themselves. Nobody has been prosecuted.