Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 27, 2022


Sophia Ressler, Center for Biological Diversity, (206) 399-4004,
Samantha Bruegger, Washington Wildlife First, (970) 531-6720,
Stephanie Taylor, Speak for Wolves, (971) 288-6184,
Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense, (541) 520-6003,
Rachel Bjork, Northwest Animal Rights Network, (206) 334-3742,
Jocelyn Leroux, Western Watersheds Project, (406) 960-4164, jocelyn

$30,000 Reward Offered for Info on Washington Wolf Killings

SEATTLE— Conservation and animal-protection groups announced a combined $30,000 reward today for information leading to a conviction in the illegal killing of four wolves in northeastern Washington earlier this year.

Deputies from the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office discovered four dead wolves on Feb. 18, while on a snowmobile patrol. An incident report indicates that the deputies reported the deaths immediately to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife but didn’t hear back from the agency. Department staff stated for the first time this week that they are actively investigating dead wolves in Stevens County but have not provided further details.

The report did not find any evidence of bullet holes or physical trauma to the wolves, which suggests their deaths may have been the result of poisoning.

“This is devastating news for Washington’s wolves, and each senseless killing must be fully investigated,” said Sophia Ressler, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If poachers are allowed to get off scot-free, it only encourages them to kill again. Fish and Wildlife must follow through and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

“The Department has chosen to paint a glowing picture of wolf recovery in Washington, rather than be honest with the public about this tragedy,” said Samantha Bruegger executive director of Washington Wildlife First. “The public, and the wolves, deserve better. We call on the Department to be open with the public about the extent of the illegal killing of wolves in the state, and we ask the public to provide whatever information they can to aid in this investigation.”

“If this is in fact a poisoning situation, putting poison out on the landscape for any unsuspecting creature to feed on is one of the most loathsome things a person can do,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, a national nonprofit advocacy group. “It’s not just about killing wolves. It’s also about wanting them to suffer. Poisons also pose a serious threat to other wildlife and pets and are a public safety risk.”

“WDFW likes to boast widely about their successful wolf recovery efforts, while continuously hiding key information from the public about the detriment to wolves,” said Steph Taylor, president of Speak for Wolves. “Washington has a poaching problem and wildlife managers need to be more responsible when it comes to promoting education about co-existence with native endangered species. They also need to step up their game in holding these disturbed poachers accountable. Otherwise, this shoot, shovel, shut up culture will continue to thrive.”

“For the last few years, the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) has been critical of wolf recovery efforts in Washington because these efforts have been wrought with politics every step of the way,” says Rachel Bjork, NARN's president. “The fact that we are just now hearing about these wolf deaths months later, and not directly from WDFW, leads us to believe that the department has no real interest in accountability to the public.”

"We are disgusted by this illegal wolf slaughter and disappointed in the way the Department has handled it," said Jocelyn Leroux, Washington and Montana director with Western Watersheds Project. "Washington's wolves deserve better treatment and the people of Washington deserve transparency.”

The $30,000 reward is being offered by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Animal Rights Network, Predator Defense, Speak for Wolves, Washington Wildlife First, and Western Watersheds Project.

Anyone who might have information regarding the incident should call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at (360) 902-2928, visit the department’s website and report a violation, or text WDFWTIP to 847411.

Teanaway wolf by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Northwest Animal Rights Network advocates for the rights of all sentient beings—the right to choose, to be free from oppression and exploitation—by pursuing campaigns, facilitating education, and connecting Pacific Northwest organizations

Predator Defense is a national nonprofit advocacy organization working to protect native predators and end America's war on wildlife. Our efforts take us into the field, onto America's public lands, to Congress, and into courtrooms.

Speak for Wolves exists to empower activists with science- and indigenous land knowledge-based education to challenge existing wildlife management practices and to influence policies that will benefit large predators, amplified by an annual grassroots wildlife conference.

Washington Wildlife First is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing about reform, accountability, and transparency within Washington’s environmental agencies, beginning with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Western Watersheds Project protects and restores western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives and legal advocacy.

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