Several non-profit groups are offering a reward of more than $51,000 for information that leads to a conviction of those responsible for fatally poisoning wolves in Washington state, USA. Six wolves were found dead, two recently and four in February 2022. Washington state Fish and Wildlife Department said that “Toxicology results revealed all six wolves died from ingesting poison.” 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.
Early in the last century wolves were made extinct in the entire state of Washington because of the trapping, poisoning, and hunting led by the cattle industry. But wolves returned to the state from neighbouring states and Canada since 2008, and there have been continuous conflicts with ranchers since then. According to an annual survey conducted by state and tribal biologists, there were a minimum of 206 wolves and 33 packs in Washington state in 2021.
Zoe Hanley, a wolf biologist with Defenders of Wildlife, said, “Anyone with the good fortune to see a wolf in the wild knows of their beauty, intellect and tight family bond…This cowardly act flies in the face of committed efforts from biologists, policymakers and ranchers working to recover and coexist with wolves in Washington.”
Wolves are listed as endangered by the state, and those found guilty of illegally killing them face a year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. These majestic iconic mammals used to have protection at the federal level for decades, but in October 2020, ex-President Donald Trump removed it by delisting them from the Endangered Species Act 1973. A petition was set up asking for that federal protection to return, and in February 2022 a federal judge reverses Trump’s decision and restored protection for the Gray wolf.