February 19, 2016The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for poaching three wolves, whose frozen bodies were found in a ditch along a northern Minnesota highway. This reward is in addition to a $2,500 offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
THE CASE: On Jan. 22, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources tip line received a report of three wolf carcasses found in a pile in a ditch just off the shoulder on Hwy. 8 near Floodwood, about 35 miles southeast of Grand Rapids. The wolves appeared to have snare marks on their necks and evidence indicates that they may have been killed elsewhere and dumped near the road, possibly the night before the DNR received the report. The bodies were sent to USFWS’s forensics lab in Oregon to determine how the animals were killed.
A SERIOUS CRIME: Gray wolves are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and cannot be killed except in defense of human life. Each violation is punishable with fines up to $25,000 and up to six months in prison.
Christine Coughlin, Minnesota state director for The HSUS, said: “There is no excuse for deliberately killing three members of a threatened species and discarding the animals like litter along the road for all to see. The poacher responsible has callously wasted the lives of these wolves and removed them from their pack during breeding season, which can cause serious disruption in pack structure. We’re hopeful this reward will bring forward anyone with information about this heinous crime.”
Marla Wilson, acting executive director of the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, said: "Clearly the person responsible for killing these magnificent animals has no regard for the law that helped bring them back from the brink of extinction.” The Trust has a 120-acre wildlife sanctuary in Minnesota and Wilson notes that wolves are safe and welcome there.
THE INVESTIGATORS: The case is being investigated by USFWS and the Minnesota DNR. Anyone with information about this case is urged to call the DNR’s Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-652-9093.
PROTECTING GRAY WOLVES: After habitat destruction and widespread poisoning, trapping and trophy hunting of wolves resulted in extirpation of the species from nearly all of their range in the lower 48 states, wolves were placed on the federal Endangered Species List in 1967. Wolves were prematurely delisted in the Great Lakes region in 2012 following pressure from special interest groups. Trophy hunters and trappers killed over 400 Minnesota wolves in the 2012-2013 hunting season—the first public hunt in the state in over four decades. A federal judge re-listed the species in 2014, but efforts to strip wolves of protection continue. The HSUS is fighting these efforts, working to ensure that wolves make a full recovery and that wildlife management decisions are based on sound science—not unfounded fear and hatred.