Observer staff

An Elgin man was arraigned in Union County Circuit Court for killing a wolf that had been caught in one of his unmarked traps.

David Sanders Jr., 58, was arraigned in court Jan. 23 after being cited on a charge of unlawful taking of wildlife and unbranded traps, both misdemeanors.

In December, an Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Trooper was inspecting a trap line near Elgin when he located a deceased wolf adjacent to one of the foothold traps, according to a press release. Upon inspection, it was determined that the wolf had likely been shot after being caught in the trap.

The trooper began an investigation, which included an x-ray examination and necropsy of the deceased wolf. A small caliber bullet was retrieved from the wolf’s spinal column.

The investigation led to Sanders, who admitted to killing the wolf after finding it caught in one of his traps, according to the release.

The investigation also determined Sanders was utilizing traps that were not branded or marked with the trapper’s information, as required by law.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife assisted with the identification of the wolf and also collected DNA samples for further testing. The deceased wolf was a 63.5 pound juvenile female born in April 2017, according to ODFW. Based on its location, ODFW believes the animal was the offspring of a new pair of wolves that bred this year in the Mt. Emily Wildlife Management Unit. Forthcoming DNA results are needed to confirm this.

ODFW reminds all trappers to immediately contact OSP or their nearest ODFW field office if they find a wolf caught in a trap. Four wolves are known to have been inadvertently caught by licensed trappers since wolves began returning to Oregon in the late 2000s. In all these known cases, the trapper contacted ODFW, and wildlife biologists were able to respond and then collar and safely release the wolf from the trap.