PASAYTEN A federal investigation has been launched after a hunter self-reported shooting and killing a gray wolf Sept. 20 in the Pasayten Wilderness.
Because the killing occurred in the portion of Okanogan County where wolves are federally protected as endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is acting as the principal investigating agency.
The name of the hunter and specific details about the incident have not been released due to the ongoing investigation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Doug Zimmer said.
“The person self-reported to Fish and Wildlife, which is what is required by law,” Zimmer said.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers responded to the call and performed the initial investigation of one dead adult female gray wolf in the Hart’s Pass area, regional Director Jim Brown said.
Brown said at least two enforcement agents and at least one biologist responded to the scene.
He said the wolf was not collared and not previously known to belong to a pack.
It could be a lone wolf or a member of a pack.
No hunters were injured, Brown said.
Neither Brown or Zimmer could say whether there was evidence of an attack.
“We do not comment on ongoing cases,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state Department of Fish and Wildlife will continue to be in communication and the investigation will be a “cooperative effort” between the two agencies.
He said there was no time frame as to when more information would be released.
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is “doing the investigation and we’re providing whatever support they require,” Brown said.
Gray wolves are listed as an endangered species west of U.S. Highway 97.
The emergency “caught in the act” rule that allows a person to kill a wolf in the process of attacking livestock does not apply in areas where the gray wolf is still listed as an endangered species.
However, the division of where wolves are or are not considered an endangered species could be changing.
The Obama Administration has proposed delisting gray wolves across the continental United States, including Washington.
That proposal is in a public comment period, which was recently extended until Oct. 28.