Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced that OR-18 a wolf originally collared as a member of Oregon’s Snake River Pack was found illegally killed in the Burnt Fork area of the Bitterroot Valley, east of Stevensville, MT late last week. Anyone with information about the poaching is encouraged to call 1-800-TIP-MONT. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a monetary reward for providing information leading to a conviction.
The news follows on the heels of yesterday’s historic announcement that Oregon’s most famous dispersing wolf – OR-7 or Journey – has sired the first known pups in Western Oregon in nearly a century. Young wolves frequently disperse from their natal packs. Other dispersing wolves have been killed in Idaho and Montana both legally and illegally. Notably, OR-9, a littermate of OR-7 was illegally killed in Idaho. In that case the poacher was given a warning by the state. In contrast, Montana is offering a reward for information leading to a conviction.
OR-18 was a two-year old male originally fitted with a GPS collar by Oregon wildlife officials in March of 2013 during a helicopter capture operation. After failing to cross I-84, the wolf began a long journey of his own after making his way through Idaho and the Big Hole Valley and arriving in the Bitterroot valley in May.
In addition to poaching, over 1,700 wolves have been killed in the Northern Rockies as part of recreational hunting and trapping seasons since wolves were stripped by of federal protections by Congress as part of a 2011 budget deal.
Below is the statement of Rob Klavins, Northeast Oregon Field Coordinator for Oregon Wild:
"It's hard to miss how illustrative the different fates of Oregon's dispersing wolves reflect the differing values and politics in their respective states. OR7 went to California to worldwide fame. He's returned, but his journey has inspired a movie, an expedition, and art. Yesterday the California Wildlife Commission voted to give wolves state endangered species protections. Wolves heading to Idaho and Montana have been killed illegally and for sport.
"Here in Oregon, we're still trying to strike a balance between a science-based conservation ethic and the legitimate concerns some raise about sharing the landscape with wolves. Unfortunately, poaching in Oregon continues to take a slow but steady toll with poaching occurring as recently as last winter. Illegal killing of wildlife takes a toll on many animals in Oregon and the state seems underfunded and ill-equipped to handle the problem.
"Sadly, in some circles, there seems to be a culture of permissiveness towards poaching of wolves and other controversial wildlife. Respect for wildlife and the law are at the very core of America's conservation ethic. We hope the killer of OR-18, like all poachers, will be brought to justice and serve as an example to those tempted to illegally kill wildlife. We also hope the sobering news will discourage those who continue to engage in irresponsible rhetoric that encourages lawlessness and creates an atmosphere of fear and hatred of native wildlife."