MEDFORD, Ore. — An Oregon man has pleaded guilty for the illegal killing of an endangered gray wolf during October of 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon.
Court documents say that 22-year-old Colton Tony Dick of Oakridge was in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near Summer Lake when he shot the wolf "without legal justification as the animal was walking away from him." He was unable to find the wolf's body and did not report the shooting.
Wildlife officials found the body of a GPS-collared adult female gray wolf known as OR28 on October 6, a day after Dick allegedly shot the animal — prompting an investigation that later confirmed the wolf had been shot and killed. State agencies offered a reward for information that could lead them to the person responsible, eventually identifying Dick.
"Gray wolves (Canis lupus), located in Western Oregon, are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "Unlawfully taking an endangered species carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and one year of supervised release."
Dick agreed to a deferred sentencing deal that will allow his charge and guilty plea to be dismissed if he serves one year on probation, pays $2,500 to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, agrees not to hunt wildlife for a year, and performs 100 hours of community service.
Earlier in 2016, OR28 paired up with another wolf called OR3 in the Silver Lake area of Lake County, where the two produced at least one documented pup. Wildlife officials began calling these the Silver Lake wolves before they found OR28 dead in October.
"OR3 and OR28 paired and bred in 2016, the pair produced at least one pup. OR28 was found dead in October 2016," ODFW reported in April of 2017. "One large wolf has been documented in the area this winter, but the status of the pup is unknown."
Since 2017, officials have continued to document one adult wolf in the Silver Lake area.