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Reward for wolf killer increased to $15,000

An ODFW biologist is shown in the process of collaring wolf OR-33, Feb. 25, 2015, when the wolf was 2 years old. OR-33 was illegally killed in Klamath County in 2017. Officials now are offering a $15,000 reward for another wolf, OR-103, killed in the county. [ODFW photo]

The reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the illegal killing of an Oregon male gray wolf in October near Klamath Falls has reached $15,000.

The Oregon Wildlife Coalition announced earlier this week that it is offering a $10,000 reward, bringing the total amount to $15,000 when combined with the $5,000 reward previously announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The illegal killing of the wolf, a collared male identified as OR-103, was reported in December. In making the announcement, FWS said the radio-collared male gray wolf was found dead Oct. 6 near Upper Klamath Lake.

“It is a violation of the Endangered Species Act to kill a gray wolf, which is listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of Oregon,” a FWS statement said. It noted the incident is being investigated by FWS with the assistance of Oregon State Police.

Anyone with information about this case should call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 503-682-6131 or the Oregon State Police Tip Line at 800-452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.

OR-103 was an adult male wolf originally captured after it was injured in a coyote leg-hold trap in July 2021. After FWS biologists determined he was not seriously injured, he was fitted with a GPS radio collar and released.

The wolf later was found in the Keno area west of Klamath Falls. As a result, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife designated a new “area of known wolf activity” in the Keno management of Klamath County.

In making the designation, ODFW officials said OR-103 originally dispersed into Northern California and resided there until returning to Oregon in July 2022.

According to a news release, “The recent localized movement indicates the wolf is now resident in Klamath County.”

The AKWA includes large private ranches and industrial timberland used for cattle grazing from the spring through fall. The area is bordered on the west by the Mountain Lakes Wilderness and on the east by Upper Klamath Lake.

Earlier in 2022, ODFW said OR-103 killed three cattle in the Doak Mountain area near Klamath Falls. There were several reports of OR-103 being sighted standing alongside roadways, including Highway 140 in the Doak Mountain area.

In recent years, gray wolves have been seen in Southern Oregon and far Northern California, most notably the Rogue Pack in areas of Jackson and Klamath counties. In 2022, the Rogue Pack was blamed for about a dozen deaths of cattle grazing in the Fort Klamath area.

“OR-103 didn’t deserve to die like this, and I hope the people who know what happened will do the right thing and come forward,” Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in the press release. “Vigilante-style killings of wolves are both morally wrong and illegal.”

OR-103’s death was the fifth known illegal wolf kill in Oregon in 2022. As many as 34 wolves have reportedly been illegally killed in Oregon over the past 22 years, with only three of those deaths leading to arrests and convictions, according to the coalition.

“Oregonians value native wildlife as well as justice, and that’s why we have such generous rewards for the poaching of wolves and other species,” Danielle Moser, wildlife program manager for Oregon Wild, said in a press release.

“We want poachers of all species to be looking over their shoulders and wondering who is going to turn them in.”

Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.