Researchers suspect two wolves have been illegally killed in northern Minnesota.
According to the Voyageurs Wolf Project, which studies wolves in and around Voyageurs National Park, two of its collared wolves, V088 and V086, went missing in early November.
V088’s collar was not transmitting data properly, according to a Facebook post from the Voyageurs Wolf Project late last month. The wolf was found dead just north of Grand Rapids, where it was lying on its collar in a way that impacted the signal.
Data from V086's collar stopped transmitting in November. When the collar began working again in December, the wolf did not appear to be moving. Researchers discovered last month that V086 and its collar were below ice in a river.
Researchers believe both wolves were killed illegally. V088’s body was not disposed of, while V086 was likely killed and then disposed of in the river, according to the post. The group will use the collar’s GPS, temperature and activity data to help determine what occurred.
According to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report obtained by the Star Tribune, officials believe one of the wolves was shot in the chest.
In Minnesota, wolves may only be hunted to defend human life. Government agents are also authorized to kill wolves if pets or livestock are being hurt or threatened, according to the DNR.
Anyone with information on the killings is encouraged to contact the DNR Turn-in-Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-652-9093.