Wolf killing leads to criminal investigation

A young Oregon wolf’s venture into California and Lassen County may have led to his sudden, perhaps criminal and untimely death.

According to the California Department of Fish and Game grey wolf website, OR-59, a male yearling wolf equipped with a GPS collar crossed into Modoc County from Oregon Dec. 2. During his travels, the wolf moved from Modoc County into Lassen County.

On Dec. 5, the yearling wolf fed on a calf that had died from natural causes on private property in Northern Lassen County, according to evidence at the scene and GPS data.
That morning, a livestock producer observed the wolf feeding on the carcass and notified CDFW, but investigators found no evidence the 3½-month-old calf had been attacked by wolves.

According to the CDFW website, “There was no evidence of predator attack. The carcass had no antemortem bite marks, and no chase or kill scene was observed.”
The investigators also saw a wolf on a hill about 250 yards away and discovered a single wolf’s tracks on nearby roads.

According to the CDFW website, “The carcass was only about 10 percent consumed, leaving most of the carcass available for thorough investigation. There were no external marks, scrapes, punctures nor internal hemorrhaging found anywhere on the carcass. Much of the lungs were filled with fluid indicating that the calf may have died from pneumonia.”

On Dec. 9, CDFW was notified by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that it had received a “mortality signal for OR-59.” Investigators responded to the scene and found OR-59 deceased.

According to the CDFW website, “This is now under a criminal investigation conducted by wildlife officers from CDFW’s law enforcement division. CDFW takes very seriously any threats to this recovering wolf population, and will investigate fully any possible criminal activity in these deaths. CDFW reminds the public that killing a wolf is a potential crime and subject to serious penalties including imprisonment.”

The CDFW did not report the wolf’s cause of death.