Ranch hand shot wolf R11F; pleads guilty


This article is based on a news release from the U.S.
Department of Justice.

Wolf no. 11, a female that was dispersing from the
Soda Butte Pack, was illegally shot on March 30. An
employee of the Deseret Ranch, Jay M. York, pled "guilty"
on April 15 and was fined $500. The shooting took place
near Meeteetse, Wyoming, which is SE of Yellowstone
National Park and a long way from where the rest of the
pack was located.

U.S. attorney David D. Freudenthal said, "This is an approp-
riate disposition of the case in light of the specific facts
and circumstances. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
the Wyoming Game and Fish Department conducted a thorough
and timely investigation of the incident which occurred
on March 30, 1996. Both Mr. York and his employer, Deseret
Ranch, were very cooperative thoughout the investigation."

The facts of the case as determined by U.S. Attorney were
that the Deseret Ranch was in the process of calving and
had lost about 23 calves to cold weather. Although there
was no confirmed loss from coyote predation, the ranch
thought this might be taking place. Coyotes had been seen
among the cows and calves. The ranch decided to shoot any
coyote found in a calving pasture.

York and his wife saw two coyotes in a calving pasture. York
got out of his truck with his rifle to shoot the coyotes, but
by the time he'd done so, the coyotes had gone over a hill.

His wife then pointed out to him another animal, which she
believed was a coyote, about 130 yards away. York fired at the
animal with his scoped rifle. York said his last recollection
was "that's a big coyote." The animal immediately fell to the
ground. York and his spouse then drove up to the animal and
realized he had shot a wolf. Upon inspecting the wolf, York
found tags in the wolf's ears. York then drove to a telephone
and told the ranch he had shot a wolf.

My comments. The fact that York's punishment was light, I think
was due to the fact that he immediately reported the shooting,
he and his employer cooperated with the investigation; and,
finally, the Park Service did not know the wolf was in the area.

To put things in contrast, a man was fined $850 just the other
day for gathering elk antlers inside of Yellowstone NP.

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1996 Ralph Maughan
Not to be reprinted, archived, redistributed, etc., without permission.