June 8, 2011 in News

Charges filed in wolf poaching case

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A federal grand jury has indicted a Twisp, Wash., man for illegally killing two wolves near his property and trying to ship one of the pelts to Canada.

After Tom D. White shot the wolves, his father told a Canadian tanner that he had “a really big coyote” skin for processing, according to the indictment.

The indictment lists Tom White; his father, William D. White; and Tom White’s wife, Erin J. White, who is accused of using a false name to try to ship the package containing the wolf pelt to Alberta in December, 2008.

A Fed-Ex worker in Omak was suspicious of the bloody package and alerted Omak police, who began an investigation. A gray wolf and wolf parts were seized, the indictment said.

Tom White faces charges of unlawfully taking an endangered species. William White is charged with conspiring to unlawfully take an endangered species and making false statement. Erin White faces charges of false labeling of wildlife for export. In addition, all three Whites face smuggling and unlawful export charges.

A conviction for unlawful taking or conspiracy to take an endangered species can result in fines up to $100,000 and up to one year in prison.

The indictment was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

William D. White, reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, said his family had no comment. No arraignment date was been set for the Whites to respond to the charges.

The wolves killed were from the Methow Valley’s “Lookout Pack,” which was Washington’s first documented wolf pack. The poaching case has drawn national attention. Only two adult males are believed remain in the pack; the pack’s alpha female disappeared last year.

According to the indictment, Tom White killed two gray wolves from the Lookout Pack in 2008. In email correspondence from January, 2009, William White said he and others shot several wolves, specifically two wolves in one group of nine and one wolf in another group of three, the indictment said. The indictment didn’t indicate whether wolves shot by William White were injured or killed.

That same month, William White use pesticides to try and kill a wolf, according to the indictment. As early as 2007, William White had emailed a relative from Alaska for help in locating someone who knew how to snare wolves, the indictment said.

Wolves were taken off the Endangered Species List in the eastern one-third of Washington state this year. But they remain a federally protected species in the rest of the state, and no public hunting of wolves is allowed in Washington at this time.

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