Oregon State Police announced Thursday that they are recruiting the public’s assistance in an investigation into the poisoning of eight wolves, ramping up an investigation that started in February.
Toxicology reports revealed that all the wolves within the Catherine Pack had been poisoned, along with wolves from the Five Points Pack and Keating Pack, according to The Associated Press (AP). When investigation petered out, with no fresh leads or suspects, officials reached out to local community members to pitch in.
“To my knowledge, there are no suspects,” said Capt. Stephanie Bigman of Oregon State Police, according to the AP. “All investigative leads have been exhausted and that is why we are reaching out to the public for assistance.”
$26,000 REWARD for information leading to a conviction in the poisoning and killing of 8 gray wolves in eastern #Oregon earlier this year.
Contact the Oregon State Police Tip Line by phone (800) 452-7888 or email TIP@state.or.us. https://t.co/iRlhCvtAjS
— Center for Bio Div (@CenterForBioDiv) December 3, 2021
Despite the case stalling out in recent months, it remains among the largest wolf hunting incidents in the state of Oregon, according to the Statesman Journal. Union District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel said that the number of these incidents is increasing rapidly.
“We are seeing more and more incidents of wolf predation and human interaction in Union County,” McDaniel said, according to the AP. “This issue has long been a challenge for local ranchers, and with the number of wolves in the area more visible, people engaging in recreation are having dangerous and accidental encounters as well.”
Livestock animals have also been killed in high numbers since wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List, sparking friction between farmers and environmental groups. Many ranchers lost lambs and sheep in recent attacks linked to wolves, The Oregonian reported. (RELATED: Hunting, Poaching Drastically Reduced State’s Wolf Population, Study Says)
Since being removed as an endangered species, gray wolves reached a higher population rate in rural areas, prompting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove protections for wolves in the Lower 48 states under the Trump administration in January.
Farmers and activists are often bitterly divided among partisan lines, as they try to address both the issue of livestock killings and maintaining a healthy population of wolves.