Local News

Federal charges filed against Twisp family in wolf poaching case

By Associated Press
Jun 09, 2011

Federal charges filed in Wash. wolf poaching case
A federal grand jury has indicted three Twisp-area residents following an investigation into the killing of endangered gray wolves in north-central Washington.

Tom White faces charges of unlawfully taking an endangered species in the 2008 killings of two wolves. His father, William D. White, later told a Canadian tanner that he had a "really big coyote" skin for processing, according to the indictment filed Tuesday in Spokane's U.S. District Court.

William White, a rancher, is charged with conspiring to unlawfully take an endangered species and making a false statement. Tom White's wife, Erin White, faces charges of false labeling of wildlife for export.

All three also face smuggling and unlawful export charges.
The White family did not return a telephone message from The Associated Press on Wednesday seeking comment. William White told The Spokesman-Review newspaper that his family had no comment.

The wolves were from the Methow Valley's Lookout Pack, the first documented wolf pack in Washington in several decades. Only two adult males are believed to remain in the pack after its alpha female disappeared last year.

William White allegedly contacted a relative in December 2007 for information about snaring wolves. A month later, email correspondence showed that he and others had begun hunting wolves near his residence, according to the indictment.

Tom White is accused of killing two wolves in 2008. Erin White is accused of using a false name to try to ship the package containing the wolf pelt to Alberta in December 2008.

A FedEx 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.

Wolves were removed from 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. No public hunting of wolves is allowed in Washington.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has been working for five years to develop a statewide management plan for wolves that considers the species' contribution to and impact on the environment, livestock and hunters.

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