The charge could result in a year in jail and a two-year suspension of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.
Steve Crown, chief of enforcement for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the shooter was a farmer who also notified authorities. Crown said it is unclear why the farmer shot the wolf, as it did not appear to pose an imminent danger to pets, livestock or the farmer.
Crown said this is the third wolf shooting this year in Washington. "If it's just in the area, it's not open season for wolves," Crown said.
Tissue samples were sent to a laboratory at UCLA where DNA testing confirmed the animal was a gray wolf.
Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy will review the case to determine if charges will be filed. In his 12 years as a county prosecutor, Tracy said he has never had a wolf shooting case.
Crown said it is believed the wolf migrated from an Idaho wolf pack. Washington has 13 documented wolf packs. Idaho has more than 100, according to officials in both states.