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Area wolf poaching case to trial in September

Sun., July 24, 2011

The case of a Methow Valley ranch family accused of killing protected wolves and smuggling their hides out of the country is set for federal trial in Spokane this fall.

Twisp-area rancher William D. White, his son Tom D. White and daughter-in-law Erin White all entered not guilty pleas June 30 in U.S. District Court.

Tom White faces charges of unlawfully taking an endangered species in the 2008 killings of two wolves. His father is charged with conspiring in the case.

Erin White faces charges of false labeling of wildlife for export. All three face smuggling and unlawful export charges.

The family was not jailed after their June 7 indictment, and appeared in court under summons. Their trial is set for Sept. 6, with federal public defenders assigned to represent them.

The three are accused of killing and seeking to ship the remains of two endangered gray wolves from the Methow Valley Lookout Pack, which in 2008 became the first breeding wolf pack documented in Washington in roughly 70 years.

Suspicion fell on the family after Erin White sought to ship a package to Canada in December 2008 containing parts of the dead animals, investigators say.

The wolves were on the federal Endangered Species list at the time the poaching is suspected. They were delisted in the Eastern Washington region earlier this year.

It remains illegal to hunt wolves anywhere in the state.

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