SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Wildlife advocates say there has been a concerning increase in wolf poaching cases in the Northwest over the past year and a half.

Four dead wolves were discovered in the northeast corner of Washington state in February. This follows the poisoning of eight wolves in eastern Oregon in 2021, as well as the poaching of a total of eight wolves in Idaho last year.

Although the numbers are small, they represent a big leap from previous years. Oregon had a total of 10 confirmed wolf poachings between 2017 and 2020. Washington had no confirmed wolf poaching from 2017 to 2021.

The Center for Biological Diversity, which compiled the figures, says the true number of poaching incidents is likely higher because the cases are difficult to solve.

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In February, the Oregon Department of Justice hired a special prosecutor to locate, investigate and prosecute poachers.

Jay Hall has been hired to be the new Assistant Attorney General dedicated to anti-poaching law enforcement and providing expertise and resources to local law enforcement for poaching investigations and prosecutions.

Previously, he prosecuted major crimes for the Lane County District Attorney’s Office and developed expertise in using state racketeering laws against organized poaching rings.

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