In the realm of wildlife conservation, wolf conservation has grown exponentially over the last year. The red wolf, for example, may soon be released back into the wild after being held in captivity for many decades. However, wildlife experts and animal enthusiasts alike were truly devastated to hear that over the last year, eight Oregon wolves were found to be poisoned. An entire wolf pack was evidently wiped out by the same lethal contaminants — but how exactly did this happen?
"It is tragic that we are losing so many wolves in Oregon, as wolves continue to be lethally targeted both here and nationally,” WildEarth Guardians' Lizzy Pennock stated in a press release, as per EcoWatch. “The loss of these wolves, in addition to extensive lethal removals at the hands of the Department this year, is a stark reminder of the need to enhance proactive nonlethal measures in wolf management to foster coexistence."
Why are wolves being poisoned in Oregon?
It's been a truly terrible year for Oregonian grey wolves, to say the least. According to The Guardian, in February 2021, fish and wildlife troopers discovered a full pack of five dead wolves, which had been known as the Catherine pack, in Union County, Ore. They found that each one had lethal amounts of poison in their systems.
Then a few weeks later, between the months of March and July, three more grey wolves were also found dead — with poison in their systems — not too far away from where the deceased members of the Catherine pack were discovered.
But why was this happening? How have so many grey wolves been poisoned in the span of just a few months?
Police believe the deaths are connected, and although an investigation was conducted, they found nothing, and discontinued their search in December 2021, per The Guardian. Authorities are now offering rewards for any information — in case foul play is at hand — in hopes of convicting the culprits involved. Authorities currently suspect poaching, but as of right now, they don't have any definitive leads.
There has been serious tension surrounding wolf conservation in Oregon over the years.
In the last few decades, advocates for wolf conservation have butted heads with farmers on several occasions. According to Oregon Live, because wolves notoriously prey on farmers' livestock, there have been many debates surrounding population and predator control. Six wolves from the Baker County, Ore. Lookout Pack last year, for example, were killed by state troopers because farmers kept losing their livestock to hungry wolves.
This has become a more prevalent issue as wolf conservation efforts have been kicked into gear. And because wolves are frequently losing their means of shelter and food due to deforestation, the wolves have resorted to hunting for food on farmers' land.
However, in 2020, wolf conservationists sued the Trump administration because federal protections for wolves under the ESA were rescinded — whether this was to appeal to hunters or farmers is unclear. That said, the tension has been seriously brutal — though the innocent wolves that have been killed don't deserve any of it. Hopefully people will come to terms with the fact that protecting wild animals is ultimately crucial to uphold our ecosystems as they are.