PUBLISHED: 9:28 AM on Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Community offers reward for answers in wolf killing

Photo by Nick Jans
  Community members of Juneau are pledging more than $9,000 for clues in the killing of a black wolf found on Thane Road. To report information, call 321-5427.
The Juneau community has pledged $9,000 as of Aug. 10, to the reward fund offered for information about the illegally killed black wolf found July 16 on Thane Road.

The $9,000 reward will be given to assistants in the prosecution of those responsible for the big game killing.

The wolf's carcass was found on the side of the road by a berry picker, who reported it to a Thane Road resident. The local resident reported it to Animal Control who informed Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

ADFG management biologist Neil Barten reported the wolf was fatally shot several times and the department is conducting further investigations.

The Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement is investigating the case, along with ADFG and the Alaska State Troopers.

The crime has broken several laws including taking a wolf out of season, failing to salvage a game animal and possibly killing big game within a quarter-mile of a road. All offenses are punishable by a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. The investigation has not yet proved whether the animal was shot on Thane Road or elsewhere and dumped there.

The black wolf was suspected to be Romeo, a dog-friendly wolf inhabiting the Juneau area for the past three years. Genetic investigations are underway to determine the wolf's identify.

Juneau community members seem especially concerned with the crime. They have organized a volunteer pledge line to assist in finding any additional information about the killing.

Nick Jans, a 51-year-old contributing editor for Alaska magazine, was one of the initial members to start the pledge. He said it was a group effort and there were people mulling around upset about the issue and they decided to do something to help.

"It was like, "Hey I'll put in $500 if you put in $500. No, I'll put in $1,000,'" Jans said. He said that now the award amount is almost $10,000, more than is being advertised.

Jans said at first they were turning down donations. There was too much money being offered and they didn't want to deal with the administrative details of taking people's money. Now they are encouraging people to make an e-mail pledge to keep it simple.

The pledge organizers do not want the money up front. They just want a pledge and then the money will later be collected if someone comes through and the award is given.

Alaska Sled Dog Tours pledged $5,000 alone. They run tourist tours out of the Sheep Creek area, where the carcass was found.

Jans said he expected a mixed response from the community due to the controversial issue. The community has differing opinions about wolf hunting. He said he was surprised by the broad base of supporters, including hunters and feels it is an excellent representation of the message Juneau wants to send on this issue.

"We've had nothing but positive response. It's been 100 percent. I expected some pranks, but there has been nothing negative," Jans said. "It's a strong statement about how Juneau feels about their wildlife. It's a statement about co-existing with wildlife and it's cool to have wolves around."

The concerned citizens have put up flyers across town. Sherrie Jans was hanging flyers Tuesday, Aug. 8, with a revised copy. The reward money had gone from $3,000 up to $9,000. Jans said she hopes it will make a difference.

"The reward went up a lot, and we hope that if it gets high enough somebody will call. There has to be a price for information, when you stop caring about someone getting mad at you for reporting information."

On Thursday, Aug. 10, the State Troopers still had no hard leads to investigate.

"The investigation is on going. We've had a few call-ins but nothing real good," a trooper said.

To report information, call 321-5427.