The killing of a federally protected wolf in Lake County earlier this month remains under investigation with no leads yet to report, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
OR-28, a 3-year-old female gray wolf, was found dead Oct. 6 in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near Summer Lake.
The same day reports were published that OR-28, who was tracked by a radio collar, was most likely responsible for an attack on a calf near Summer Lake taking place sometime in mid September.
The killing was a violation of the Endangered Species Act, as gray wolves are protected in the western two-thirds of Oregon, and the incident is under investigation by FWS and Oregon State Police.
On Monday, FWS spokesperson Brent Lawrence said his agency is not ready yet to report any arrests or leads in the matter. “It’s an open investigation and we, at this point, are unable to provide any additional information,” he said.
A $5,000 reward has been offered to information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible. Those with information should call FWS at 503-682-6131, or OSP at 800-452-7888.
Since 2003, 10 wolves have been illegally killed in Oregon, according to Michelle Dennehy with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
Dennehy said the loss of OR-28 should not adversely affect the viability of wolf populations in Oregon as their numbers continue to grow, but said it the animal’s death was unfortunate because she had only just begun breeding. “It’s always sad to see when a wolf is unlawfully taken, especially when it is part of a breeding pair,” said Dennehy.
OR-28 was paired with OR-3, an 8-year-old male, since last year and the two were observed with at least one pup. The group, too small yet to be called a pack, had become known as the Silver Lake Wolves because of their territory in Northern Lake County.
Dennehy there is no concern at this time for the viability of the pup, as it is old enough to survive without its mother. She said ODFW is also interested in collaring OR-3 because they like to have radio tracking for at least one wolf in a group.
As far as the prevention for future deadly encounters with wolves, Dennehy said livestock producers and landowners can take multiple non-lethal measures to protect themselves and their animals.
She said increasing the presence of humans and dogs around a herd is an effective deterrent, as are fences and radio boxes that emit loud noises in the presence of a collared wolf. She also said landowners should clean up gut piles and other attractants to keep wolves away from their properties.
For ranchers who do incur losses from wolf attacks, Dennehy said the Oregon Department of Agriculture has funds set aside to reimburse them for lost and damaged livestock.