Oregon State Police is investigating the death of an animal that is “believed to be a wolf” in northeast Oregon’s Union County.
Sgt. Isaac Cyr said the police are waiting for DNA analysis to confirm the species, but in a news release the agency reported its “measurements and physical appearance match that of a wolf.”
Police received a call this morning about the 97-pound animal, found on private property 6 miles north of Cove. The initial examination didn’t confirm the cause of death or whether it was the result of a criminal act.
According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the region isn’t within the range of northeast Oregon’s four known wolf packs. However, the agency has received reports of wolf activity in the area since last fall and documented a single set of wolf tracks in the area twice in October and again in January.
ODFW has surveyed the area since January and installed remote cameras, but hasn’t found any other signs of wolves since then.
Gray wolves are protected by the state Endangered Species Act and it’s illegal to kill them except when defending a human life or with a special permit. The penalty for illegally killing a wolf can be up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $6,250.
There have been several illegal wolf killings in Oregon since wolves started migrating into the state from Idaho. The most recent was in 2010, when a wolf from Oregon’s Wenaha pack was found to have been illegally shot. Wolf advocates offered a $10,000 reward for information on the shooter last year, but Cyr said there still aren’t any suspects in that case.