The wolf, a 2-year-old female known as OR 106 who was previously part of the Chesnimnus Pack, was found dead Jan. 8 on Parsnip Creek Road about 6 miles southeast of Wallowa.
State police originally said wildlife biologists determined OR 106 had died of a gunshot wound. Advocacy groups offered a reward of more than $16,000 for tips that led to the person who killed the wolf, which had been fitted with a tracking collar.
An analysis conducted at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland showed the wolf actually died of blunt force trauma to the chest and pelvis, state police said.
The wolf’s injuries were consistent with being hit by a car, state police said, though OR 106 also had injuries that appeared to be the result of a fight with another wolf and a gunshot wound to her left hind leg that was partially healed when she died.
“(The gunshot wound) didn’t appear to be debilitating and was not associated with the cause of death,” state police said in a statement.
Oregon’s wolf population saw only anemic growth in 2021, according to the state’s annual count of the animals, with the minimum number of wolves in the state at 172, up just two from the previous count. The report also showed a spike in deaths caused by humans.
At least 26 wolves died in the state last year, up from 10 the previous year, according to the report.
Humans caused 21 of the deaths.
Vehicles struck four wolves and a rancher shot another. State police interviewed the rancher and he faced no charges.
At least eight wolves, including the entirety of the Catherine Pack, were poisoned in Union County. That case remains open and a $50,000 reward has been offered for information that leads to an arrest.
The Department of Fish & Wildlife also killed eight wolves associated with the Lookout Mountain Pack, including two pups, after repeated attacks on livestock in Baker County.
The cause of death was unclear for four of the animals, one was killed by other wolves and another died of what are believed to be natural causes.
– Kale Williams; firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-294-4048; @sfkale