COLVILLE, Wash. — Six wolves found dead this year in northeast Washington were poisoned and a reward is being offered for tips leading to a conviction in the case, officials said Monday.
Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said the agency has been investigating wolf deaths within the Wedge pack territory in Stevens County since local authorities discovered four dead wolves on Feb. 18.
The agency found two more dead wolves in the following month.
Toxicology results revealed all six wolves died from ingesting poison, officials said.
Officials are asking anyone who might have relevant information to report it confidentially by calling Fish and Wildlife’s poaching hotline, 877-933-9847, or by texting a tip to 847411.
Conservation groups are offering a $51,000 reward for tips that lead to convictions in the poisonings.
“Anyone with the good fortune to see a wolf in the wild knows of their beauty, intellect and tight family bond,” Zoe Hanley, a wolf biologist with Defenders of Wildlife, said in an emailed statement. “This cowardly act flies in the face of committed efforts from biologists, policymakers and ranchers working to recover and coexist with wolves in Washington.”
The Wedge Pack has been intentionally killed off twice for preying on cattle, but new packs keep forming in what is prime wolf habitat.
Wolves were killed off in the entire state of Washington early in the last century because of the cattle industry. Since wolves returned to the state in 2008, conflicts with ranchers have been numerous.
In Oregon last year, wildlife troopers found eight dead wolves in the northeastern part of the state. The animals were poisoned, but the deaths remain unsolved and rewards also have been offered for tips.
There were a minimum of 206 wolves and 33 packs in Washington state in 2021, according to an annual survey conducted by state and tribal biologists. Idaho had about 1,500 wolves, while Oregon had about 173 at the time.