FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement of Conservation Northwest on sentencing of Lookout Pack poachers
Bellingham - This morning, Judge Frem Nielsen, of the US District Court in Spokane, ruled on sentencing of the three members of the White family, of Twisp, for their respective roles in 2010 federal crimes related to poaching of members of the Lookout Wolf Pack and for other wildlife related crimes.
Bellingham - This morning, Judge Frem Nielsen, of the US District Court in Spokane, ruled on sentencing of the three members of the White family, of Twisp, for their respective roles in 2010 federal crimes related to poaching of several wolves of the Lookout Pack and for other wildlife related crimes. The US Attorney announced plea agreements on April 4 and April 17. Judge Nielsen today accepted those agreements but added six months of home detention for Bill White and three months of home detention for Tom White. State charges remain pending.
The Lookout Pack was first documented (by remote cameras operated by Conservation Northwest, which has been closely involved in wolf recovery efforts in the state) in 2008, the first confirmed wolves in Washington in over 70 years. The pack’s breeding male is descended from the BC Coast, genetically distinct from wolves that have migrated from Idaho. The pack denned in 2008 and 2009, but the breeding female disappeared in spring of 2010. The admitted crimes of the White family during these years reduced the pack to its present status of just two or three individuals, and the pack has not produced pups since.
Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest, said, “I’m pleased that Judge Nielsen chose to stiffen the penalties beyond the US Attorney’s plea agreements with Bill and Tom White. These were very serious crimes which have gravely impacted Washington's first returning and most important wolf pack. The law enforcement community did a great service bringing these crimes to light and these criminals to justice. My hope is that these sentences send a strong signal to anyone considering harming wolves or any other wildlife.”
"The presence of the Lookout Pack was celebrated this very week four year ago. Today, their future is uncertain."
The poaching of the Lookout wolves was a serious setback; the pack has failed to produce a litter the past three breeding seasons. This leaves the Teanaway wolves as the sole confirmed breeding pair in the Cascades. (As many as eight packs are active farther east in Washington.)
“The delay of recovery progress harms both those who appreciate wolves and those who wish to see their protected status loosened,” Friedman said. “It also harms our Northwest ecosystems, in which wolves play a vital role as a top predator.”
In the hope that this will be the last such poaching episode of Washington’s wolves, Conservation Northwest continues to maintain a reward fund in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.