Nov. 26, 2014 2:01 p.m. - Updated: 3:24 p.m.
PREDATORS — It's been a quiet week in the region some people would like to call Wolfbegone.
But here are a few notes about the species as wolves continues to recover their native range in the Northwest.
A Whitman County wolf shooting case is in the hands of county prosecutor Denis Tracy.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife turned its evidence over to the prosecutor on Nov. 19 with the possibility that the man who shot a wolf around Oct. 12 could be charged with a misdemeanor for killing an animal that's protected in far-Eastern Washington by state endangered species laws. The agency turned over the evidence after receiving DNA lab results that confirmed the animal was a wolf and not a wolf hybrid.
Tracy's office staff said today that the prosecutor is still investigating the case before making the decision on whether to prosecute the case. The identity of the shooter has not been released although WDFW officers described the man as a county farmer. The original WDFW report
said the man chased the wolf in a vehicle and shot it in a Palouse farm field about 15 miles southwest of Pullman.
“We're not recommending anything,” said Steve Crown, Fish and Wildlife Department chief. “We're simply referring the facts of the case in our report. It's up to the prosecutor to examine the facts and the case law and decide whether to bring charges.”
Making the decision to prosecute is a big deal.
Although exemptions are made for killing a wolf to protect life or livestock, unlawful taking of a state endangered species is punishable by sentences of up to a year in jail and fines up to $5,000.
The only wolf-killing case to be prosecuted in Washington resulted in Twisp ranching family members being ordered to pay fines totaling $50,000 in 2012 for killing two Lookout Pack wolves in 2008.
A Kittitas County wolf-killing case remains under investigation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Brent Lawrence said Tuesday no arrests have been made in the October shooting of an adult breeding female belonging to the Teanaway Pack near Salmon la Sac. Conservation groups have offered a $15,000 reward in the case.
The wolf was found by state and federal wildlife officials Oct. 28 in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The female was wearing a telemetry collar and was shot in the hindquarters. Investigators say she likely was killed around Oct. 17.
USFWS is leading the investigation because the shooting occurred in the two-thirds of the state in which wolves are federally protected. Wolves also are protected state endangered species laws.
An unlawful taking of a federal endangered species is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
A hunter was cleared for shooting at stalking wolf on Oct. 30 in Stevens County.The animal ran way, but the hunter reported to officials that he thought it had been hit.
A Smackout Pack wolf was found dead Feb. 9 near Cedar Lake in northeast Stevens County. Conservation groups joined with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to offer a $22,500 reward for information about the case. However, the case still has not been solved.
An anti-wolf group called Washington Residents Against Wolves has initiated an billboard campaign in Spokane.
BLM has denied a permit for a predator derby based out of Salmon, Idaho. Organizers say they'll hold the derby on national forest land.
The first gray wolf in northern Arizona in more than 70 years was confirmed by wildlife officials this week. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Jeff Humphrey said Friday that analysis of the animal’s scat shows it’s from the Northern Rockies population at least 450 miles away. It was first spotted by a tourist in early November.
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