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Officials offer reward after 3 gray wolves found dead in N. Minnesota

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Three gray wolf carcasses were found together in St. Louis County, and now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating.

The agency is asking for the public's help to figure out who is responsible for the deaths of the wolves, which were found off Highway 8 in Floodwood around Jan. 22, Tina Shaw, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), told BringMeTheNews.

A reward of up to $2,500 is available for information that leads to the arrest of a suspect, Shaw says.

Officials collected evidence from the scene and the carcasses were sent to the USFWS's national forensics lab in Oregon – it's the only crime lab for animals in the country, Shaw says.

The date and time the wolves were killed is still being determined, but Shaw says evidence shows the wolves were killed elsewhere and purposely moved to the area where they were found.

Investigators say there appear to be marks from a snare on the necks of the wolves, but forensics scientists are still determining their cause of death.

It's illegal to kill a gray wolf in Minnesota, except in the defense of human life, the state Department of Natural Resources website shows. The punishment for poaching a wolf is up to six months in prison and a fine up to $25,000, the Star Tribune says.

Gray wolves in Minnesota are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act following a 2014 court ruling. There have been efforts to remove those protections, but they have failed.

Between Jan. 1, 2015, and June 30, 2015, three wolves were illegally killed in Minnesota, the DNR's website shows.

In the 1950s, there were fewer than 750 gray wolves in the state, but thanks to the DNR's wolf management plan, the estimates show the gray wolf population in northeastern Minnesota is stable, with no significant change from the 2013 estimate of 2,211 wolves.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call the DNR’s Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-652-9093.

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