A wolf in Oregon was found shot on the morning of February 15 in the latest in a string of wolf killings in the state.
The collared wolf, known as OR-109, was found about 3.5 miles south of Cove in Union County in the northeast of the state. Troopers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Oregon State Police (OSP) found the wolf after receiving a warning alerting them to the body.
The OSP is now appealing for the public’s assistance in locating the person or persons responsible for the murder of OR-109. A released image showed the wolf’s body lying in the snow with visible injuries.
Hunting and trapping wolves is illegal in Oregon, and gray wolves are a protected species under state law. The animals were controversially removed from the Endangered Species Act under the Trump administration. However, a federal judge restored national protections for animals across much of the western United States in a ruling issued earlier this month. The judge said the US Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to prove that wolf populations could be sustained without federal protection.
Under government policies targeting animals in the 19th and 20th centuries, gray wolves were hunted to near extinction until their inclusion in the Endangered Species Act in 1973.
There were at least 173 gray wolves in Oregon at the last official count at the end of 2020.
Financial rewards of up to $300 are offered by the Oregon Hunters Association to anyone who provides information about illegal poaching incidents like the OR-109 murder.
OR-109 is the latest wolf to be found shot in Oregon. A two-year-old cub known as OR-106 was found on January 8, after being shot and killed in a suspected poaching incident in Wallowa County.
The Center for Biological Diversity conservation group reported before the OR-109 killing that 30 wolves had been illegally killed in Oregon over the past 21 years.
At least 10 of them took place last year.
Eight were poisoned to death in Union County in February 2021, including five from the same group. Two other wolves died in separate alleged killings in April and July. Both were found with poison in their systems.
After the Jan. 8 killing, conservationists including the Western Watersheds Project urged Gov. Kate Brown to investigate the recent spate of unexplained wolf killings in the state.
The Center for Biological Diversity said arrests and convictions only occurred in three of the 30 cases.
Newsweek has contacted ODFW for comment.