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Wolf Poaching: Oregon's Famous 'Sled Springs Pair' Found Dead One Month Ahead of Endangered Species List Decision

Sep 21, 2015 12:18 PM EDT

After two adult wolves were found dead within 50 yards of each other in Wallowa County, Oregon, state officials are seeking help from the community to investigate their death. Authorities believe the death of the two gray wolves was "unnatural," meaning that poachers could be involved.

One of the wolves found was a collared female known as OR21, who was set free in an area known as Sled Springs in Oct. 2014. This area is monitored for wolf activity, so when the collar sent a mortality signal, the Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish and Wildlife Division and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) responded to the location. The female and male wolves found within 50 yards of each other were known as the Sled Springs pair. Authorities also noted that the two wolves may have given birth to pups earlier this year; the fate of the potential orphaned five-month-olds is also being investigated.  

Poaching of wolves in Oregon has happened before and officials are thoroughly investigating the two recent wolf deaths to see if it has happened again. This comes at a time when the ODFW is considering whether or not to remove the gray wolf from the state's endangered species list.

Hunting wolves has been a concern since the 1600s; at various periods since then, wolves have almost been completely wiped out of existence. As a result of decreasing wolf populations, it is illegal to hunt them in many areas. 

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-Follow Samantha on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13

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