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North Cascades Wolves Hit Hard By Poachers; Indictments Filed

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By Tom Banse
National Public Radio

The long prison terms looming over three people indicted this week for killing wolves could send a message to poachers. But it won't bring back the first wolf pack to re-establish in Washington state. That pack of endangered wolves is now down to "remnants."

The long prison terms looming over three people indicted this week for killing wolves could send a message to poachers. But it won't bring back the first wolf pack to re-establish in Washington state. That pack of endangered wolves is now down to "remnants."

A federal investigation was triggered when a FedEx clerk in Omak, Washington reported a suspicious package dripping blood. The box turned out to contain the pelt of an endangered wolf.

This week, a grand jury indicted three members of a rural Twisp, Washington family. They're accused of killing at least two and possibly up to five protected wolves.

Those animals allegedly came from the first wolf pack to re-colonize in Washington. State Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Madonna Luers says recent monitoring finds no females remaining in the North Cascades.

"Really all we have come up with is the radio-collared male and one other adult wolf that we believe to be another male," Luers said. "And that's it."

Earlier this year, wolves were taken off the endangered species list in the northern Rockies and the eastern third of Washington and Oregon. They remain a federally protected species elsewhere in the West.

Meanwhile, a 17 member advisory group continued to wrestle Thursday over details of Washington's long term wolf management plan. A final recommendation is expected in August.

On the Web:
Gray wolf conservation and management in Washington: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

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