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No Charges Filed in Idaho Wolf Killing

April 17, 2008.

From Idaho Fish and Game:

No charges will be filed in a case involving the shooting of two wolves west of Ashton on April 1.

"In my opinion, there is 'reasonable doubt' whether the wolves were, or were not, molesting livestock or domestic animals," said Karl H. Lewies, Fremont County prosecuting attorney, in a letter to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The case stems from the killing of two male wolves. It is the first reported case of wolves being shot in Idaho since they were removed from the endangered species list on March 28.

Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers and the Fremont County prosecutor's office investigated the incident.

The first wolf shot was within view of the individual's home and near the landowner's horses. The second wolf was killed a little more than a mile from the man's home and horses. After shooting the first wolf, the man had pursued the second wolf on a snowmobile.

"I have determined that no charges will be filed," Lewies wrote.

Since delisting, wolves have been classified as big game animals in Idaho.

Owners of livestock and domestic animals are allowed to kill wolves in the act of attacking or molesting their animals. But wolves taken in this manner must be reported to Fish and Game within 72 hours.

People concerned about how to respond to wolves or to request assistance with wolves should contact the local Fish and Game office. The intent of Idaho wolf depredation law is to allow people to protect their private property, while ensuring the protection of wolves that are not causing problems, similar to existing state law for depredating black bears and mountain lions.

The livestock owner or agent has to decide whether the wolf is actively "molesting" or attacking livestock or domestic animals. Molesting means "the actions of a wolf that are annoying, disturbing or persecuting, especially with hostile intent or injurious effect, or chasing, driving, flushing, worrying, following after or on the trail of, or stalking or lying in wait for, livestock or domestic animals."

The law allows anyone to protect their animals using any nonlethal method they deem necessary. But it doesn't allow a livestock owner, employee or agent to kill a wolf if it is merely in the vicinity of their animals but not molesting or attacking them.

It is also illegal for anyone to pursue and kill a wolf away from the site when the wolf no longer is molesting or attacking the livestock or domestic animals. The law requires livestock owners to get a permit from Fish and Game to kill wolves not actively molesting or attacking animals.

Both wolves were killed outside a hunting season, and the furs remain the property of the state and will be sold at the annual Fish and Game fur sale.


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