$25,000 reward offered for information on animal poisonings in Eastern Oregon

FILE - This February 2017 file photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a gray wolf in northern Wallowa County, Oregon.  Authorities in Oregon are asking for help locating the person or people responsible for poisoning an entire pack of wolves in the eastern part of the state earlier this year.  Oregon State Police said Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, that they are investigating the killing of all five members of the Catherine Pack in Union County, as well as three other wolves from other packs.  (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, file)

FILE – This February 2017 file photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a gray wolf in northern Wallowa County, Oregon. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Authorities are searching for suspects in a series of poisoning incidents that resulted in the deaths of three gray wolves, two golden eagles, a mountain lion, a coyote and even two dogs during the senior year throughout Wallowa County, Oregon.

Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, criminal conviction or sanction for the poisoning of wolves and golden eagles.

Two of the poisonings occurred in the second half of 2023, in the Chesnimnus Wildlife Management Unit, about 30 miles northeast of Enterprise, Oregon, officials said.

Less than a year later, in April of this year, F&W Troopers responded to another suspected wolf poisoning in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit, about 5 miles west of Troy , in Oregon.

Two domestic dog poisonings, also in April, occurred just north of Enterprise and just north of Imnaha, Oregon, respectively. These were likely intended for wolves, according to Oregon State Police.

However, an incident in early February 2024 forced authorities to thoroughly investigate the source of the poison. After being dispatched to the deaths of three collared wolves in the Hells Canyon area, it reportedly took a full day of hiking before authorities found a poison-laced cow carcass in a creek in the Imnaha River watershed .

It would take several more weeks to know the total death toll from the poisoning, as authorities continued to find dead wildlife, including the two golden eagles, the cougar and the coyote.

Since some poisons are toxic to living things and non-biodegradable, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife worked to remove the cow carcass from the environment, moving it to a tarp and lifting by helicopter for proper disposal.

Under new sentencing guidelines adopted by the Oregon state legislature in 2019, poisoning a wolf is a Class C felony, punishable by a fine of up to to $125,000 and five years in prison. Additionally, poaching federally protected wildlife or poaching multiple animals is a criminal charge.

The ODFW also calls these poisonings a “worrying trend,” which has killed 19 wolves in Oregon since 2015.

“Northeast Oregon is known for its natural resources and outdoor opportunities, so it’s just terrible that this is happening,” said Bernadette Graham-Hudson, administrator of the wildlife division of the ODFW. “We hope that anyone poisoning wildlife is quickly caught and punished for the safety of people, wildlife and pets in Northeast Oregon.”

Anyone with information regarding any of these cases is encouraged to contact authorities.