Investigation Complete for Wolf Killed in Western Colorado
For Immediate Release
November 23, 2015
DENVER— A coyote hunter who shot a protected gray wolf in western Colorado earlier this year will not face criminal charges.
An investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Justice determined that the Colorado resident was legally hunting coyotes near Kremmling, Colo., on April 29th, when he mistook the male gray wolf (Canis lupus) for a member of the smaller canid species. After the shooting, the hunter recognized that the animal he killed may have been a wolf and immediately reported the incident to authorities.
An analysis by the Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Ore., confirmed that the animal killed was indeed a gray wolf.
The Endangered Species Act has criminal penalties for “any person who knowingly violates any provision…” of the Act. “Our investigation determined that the shooting resulted from misidentification rather than the intentional take of a protected species,” said Mountain-Prairie Region Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Dan Rolince. “Although the hunter did the right thing by reporting his mistake immediately, this is a good reminder to hunters to properly identify their targets before pulling the trigger.”
Most wolves typically leave the pack they were born in by age three and seek out a mate to start a new pack or join another existing pack. Long-distance dispersing wolves have traveled over 500 miles into neighboring states in the Northern Rockies, the West Coast and the western Great Lakes regions. One GPS-collared wolf traveled an estimated 400 miles in the seven months prior to being killed by a banned poison in Rio Blanco County, Colorado in 2009.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.
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