Wolf Pack Poisoned In Union County


Photo: Ford, Brad

Photo: ODFW/file

The Oregon State Police is seeking public assistance in locating the person or persons responsible for the poisoning of the Catherine Wolf Pack in eastern Oregon. 

On February 9, 2021, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division Troopers received information from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) regarding a possibly deceased, collared wolf. Troopers responded to the area and located five deceased wolves, three males, and two females. It was later determined the wolves were from the Catherine Pack, with all known members present and deceased. The wolves were located southeast of Mount Harris, within Union County. Fish and Wildlife Troopers and ODFW personnel with the assistance of a helicopter searched the area for anything of evidentiary value. An additional deceased magpie was also found in the vicinity of the deceased wolves. 

The five wolves and magpie were collected and transported to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Lab located in Ashland, Oregon to determine the cause of death. 

On March 11, 2021, Fish and Wildlife Troopers again received information from ODFW personnel of an additional wolf collar emitting a mortality signal in the same general location. A search of the area located a deceased female wolf, a skunk, and a magpie all very close to the scene. All animals were collected and immediately submitted to the USFWS lab for testing. The female wolf was dispersing from the Keating Pack. 

Fish and Wildlife Troopers were initially hampered in investigating the scene due to snow levels and inclement weather. Troopers continued searching over the next few weeks as snow continued to melt and located evidence of suspected poisoning. The evidence was submitted for testing and analysis. 

In April 2021, the USFWS submitted their examination reports with findings consistent with poisoning as the cause of death for all six wolves, the skunk, and two magpies. Lab results also indicated the suspected evidence confirmed a poisonous substance. 

In addition, two more collared wolves were found deceased in Union County after the initial incidents. In April 2021, a deceased adult male wolf from the Five Points Pack was located west of Elgin and in July 2021, a young female wolf from the Clark Creek Pack was located northeast of La Grande. In both cases the cause of death was not readily apparent, a necropsy and testing were conducted. Toxicology reports confirmed the presence of differing types of poison in both wolves. Based upon the type of poison and locations, it was determined the death of the young female wolf may be related to the earlier six poisonings.

Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers have continued in their investigation in the intervening months but have exhausted leads in the case. OSP is asking any person with information related to this investigation to contact the Oregon State Police through the OSP TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (677) or TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us. Please reference Case #SP21-033033.


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