Wolf assassin on the loose

  • COMPOUND KILLER: Wolf poisoned by Compound 1080

    USFWS photo


A murder mystery case is unfolding near Idaho's Salmon-Challis National Forest. Over the past two years, nine endangered gray wolves have died there by the poison Compound 1080, according to recently released tests conducted at the National Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Ore. The discovery of all nine wolves occurred after their radio collars began emitting a mortality signal, according to Paul Weyland of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He suspects more poisonings have gone undetected, because only one-third of Idaho's wolves is collared.

"This is a very big setback toward recovery because the deaths occurred in reproductive packs," says Isaac Babcock, a wildlife biologist with the Nez Perce Tribe, which is working on wolf recovery (HCN, 2/26/01: Return of the natives). He says that in order to delist the wolf, a certain number of breeding pairs must be counted. "The more illegal kills, the longer it is going to take to get wolves removed from the endangered species list."

Wolves aren't the only ones at risk from Compound 1080, banned by the EPA in 1972. The poison is odorless, tasteless, colorless, without antidote and can contaminate soil and water.

"This puts a lot of people in danger. It is such a heinous act," says Suzanne Laverty, Northwest regional representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

Defenders, the Wolf Education and Research Center, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are offering $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Idaho's wolf poisoner. Contact the USFWS at 208/378-5333.


Copyright © 2001 HCN and Cynthia Sewell