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Feds offer $50,000 reward after 3 endangered gray wolves found dead in Oregon

All 10 gray wolves captured in Oregon now reside on Colorado's Western Slope
All 10 gray wolves captured in Oregon now reside on Colorado's Western Slope 00:31

A federal agency is offering a $50,000 reward for information about the deaths of three endangered gray wolves from the same pack in southern Oregon.

The collars from two gray wolves sent a mortality signal Dec. 29. State wildlife officials responded and found three dead wolves, two with collars and one without, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement.

The collared wolves were an adult breeding female and a subadult from the Gearhart Mountain Pack. The other wolf killed was also a subadult.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said it is aware of seven wolves remaining in the pack, including a breeding male.

Pack of Gray Wolves
This undated photo shows a pack of gray wolves. / Getty Images

Officials did not indicate in the statement how the wolves died. A phone message left Saturday seeking more information was not immediately returned.

Gray wolves are protected by federal law under the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to hurt or kill them. The reward is for information leading to an arrest, criminal conviction or fine.

In Oregon, gray wolves are listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of the state.

The three wolves were killed east of Bly in southern Oregon's Klamath County, or about 310 miles southeast of Portland. They were an area that wolves are known to inhabit, stretching across Klamath and Lake counties, just north of the Oregon-California border.

In December, a settlement approved by a federal court ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must draft a new recovery plan for gray wolves listed under the Endangered Species Act within two years. The plan must promote the conservation of the species.

In August, researchers identified a new pack of endangered gray wolves in California. The new pack was found in Central California's Tulare County – about 200 miles from the nearest pack in Northern California. 

$6.5K reward after killing of desert bighorn sheep in Arizona

Meanwhile, wildlife officials are investigating the illegal killing of a desert bighorn sheep in southwest Arizona and teaming up with local hunting and conservation groups to post a $6,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of anyone responsible.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said Friday the carcass of the adult ram was found not far from a farm field near Gila Bend, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. It apparently had been shot and left for dead around the weekend of Jan. 13, investigators said.

The Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Arizona Deer Association and Arizona Antelope Foundation are contributing a combined $6,000 to the reward and the state department's Operation Game Thief another $500, authorities said.

"There is no justifiable reason to poach an animal during a closed season and leave it to waste. Poachers are not hunters or sportsmen; they are criminals who are stealing from the residents of Arizona," said Travis Clarkson, a wildlife manager in the department's Yuma region.

"Due to the location of the crime scene, a hunter, an off-highway vehicle user, or a field worker near the area may have seen something or heard something that may assist officers in solving this case," he said.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Operation Game Thief Hotline toll-free at 1-800-352-0700.

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