From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 20 - August 12, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Nature's News

Enviros side with feds

A federal judge has agreed to allow five environmental groups join as intervenors in a lawsuit over Wyoming's wolf-management plan. The State of Wyoming sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's rejection of the plan, and now the five environmental groups will be allowed to help FWS defend its decision rejecting the plan.

The groups involved include the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Predator Conservation Alliance and the National Wildlife Federation.

Idaho man fined $21K

A Lewiston, Idaho, man pleaded guilty in federal court on July 29 to the killing of a gray wolf. After pleading guilty, Robin Shafer was sentenced and ordered to serve one year of probation with nationwide revocation of hunting privileges, and to pay $21,252 in civil restitution to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Shafer admitted in court that he had shot and killed the wolf during a 2003 elk hunt near Elk River, Idaho, and that he had taken the tail of the wolf to his Lewiston residence. The wolf, an adult female, was not radio-collared.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game began investigating the case in late 2003 after the department received a tip from a concerned citizen. State and federal investigators conducted an extensive search and found the carcass of what appeared to be a wolf under about four feet of snow near the campsite Shafer had used during the 2003 elk season. The investigators observed that the tail appeared to have been removed from the carcass.

The remains of the wolf were sent to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Forensics Lab in Ashland, Oregon, and it was confirmed that the carcass was that of a gray wolf that had been shot. Investigators conducted numerous interviews and found what appeared to be a wolf tail in Shafer's residence while conducting an interview there. The investigation indicated that the wolf had not been attacking or threatening Shafer when he shot it, and that he had transported the wolf carcass to his camp to show it to others.

Shafer was charged in federal court with violating the Endangered Species Act, including the killing, possession and transport of a gray wolf, a threatened species. Federal investigators requested that the court order Shafer to pay the restitution to an Idaho Fish and Game account, where it will be used to help offset costs of the state's gray wolf management program.

FWS is currently arranging payment of a monetary reward to the concerned citizen whose call initiated the investigation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Law Enforcement Field Supervisor Craig Tabor noted, "We hope that this penalty will serve as a deterrent to others who would take the law into their own hands, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to provide funds that will support Idaho's increasing role in wolf management."

Utah man pays $8,000

An individual responsible for killing hundreds of Utah prairie dogs, a federally designated threatened species, formally admitted to committing four counts of violating the Endangered Species Act as charged in a Notice of Assessment, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As part of the settlement agreement signed in July, the individual paid a negotiated civil penalty of $8,000, which will be placed into the Endangered Species Act reward account. These funds can be used as rewards for information leading to an arrest, a criminal conviction, civil penalty assessment or forfeiture of property for a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

In August of 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated an investigation into the disappearance of an estimated 250 Utah prairie dogs on the Cedar Ridge Golf Course in Cedar City, Utah. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reported to FWS agents that summer population counts around the golf course had documented only three Utah prairie dogs. In August 1999, biologists estimated there should have been over 250 prairie dogs in the area. In April 2003, after an extensive investigation, the Director of the FWS issued a civil penalty - notice of assessment charging the responsible party with four counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. The charges were for: participating in filling, covering and otherwise destroying Utah prairie dog burrows; soliciting and causing others to take (kill) or attempt to take Utah prairie dogs; shooting at, wounding and killing Utah prairie dogs with a pellet rifle; and running down Utah prairie dogs with a golf cart. Each count carried a maximum civil penalty of $25,000.

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