News Index > Sortable News 10/06 - now > AR News April 2012
Dead wolf photos stir tension in the West

A debate about the ethics of hunting wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains has taken a threatening turn after gruesome images of the animals, dead and maimed by traps, swept the internet.

The FBI is investigating a report of an anonymous email received by anti-trapping group Footloose Montana warning advocates will 'be the target next'.

The group says it was likely singled out because it had criticised and widely circulated a snapshot of a smiling trapper posed with a dying wolf whose leg was caught in the metal jaws of a foothold trap on a patch of blood-stained snow.

full story:

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Photos of dead and maimed wolves have pervaded the Internet in recent weeks, raising tensions in the Northern Rocky Mountains over renewed hunting and trapping of the once federally protected animals.

Escalating rancor between hunters and animal rights activists on social media and websites centers on pictures of wolves killed or about to be killed. Many have text celebrating the fact that Western states are allowing more killing of the predators.

Commenting on a Facebook-posted image of two wolves strangled to death by cable snares, an individual who identified himself as Shane Miller wrote last month, "Very nice!! Don't stop now, you're just getting started!"

A person going by the name Matthew Brown posted the message, "Nice, one down and a BUNCH to go!" in response to a Facebook image of a single wolf choked to death in a snare.

Such pictures and commentary have intensified online arguments over the ethics of hunting and trapping wolves. The debate took a threatening turn this week with an anonymous email warning that animal rights advocates will "be the target next."

In Idaho and Montana, hundreds of the animals have been killed -- mostly through hunting -- less than a year after being removed from the U.S. endangered species list.

Stripping the wolves of federal protection last spring opened the animals to state wildlife management, including newly licensed hunting and trapping designed to reduce their numbers from levels the states deemed too high.

Since the de-listing last May, Idaho has cut its wolf population by about 40 percent, from roughly 1,000 to about 600 or fewer. Some 260 wolves have been killed in Montana, more than a third of its population, leaving an estimated 650 remaining.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has also proposed lifting the protected status for another 350 wolves in Wyoming.

The threatening note received by an anti-trapping group based in Missoula, Montana, this week has drawn scrutiny from federal and local law enforcement.

The group says it was likely singled out because it had criticized and widely circulated a snapshot of a smiling trapper posed with a dying wolf whose leg was caught in the metal jaws of a foothold trap on a patch of blood-stained snow.


Once common across most of North America, wolves were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near extinction in the lower 48 states by the 1940s under a government-sponsored program.

Decades later, biologists recognized that wolves had an essential role as a predator in mountain ecosystems, leading to protection of the animal under the Endangered Species Act.

Wolves were reintroduced in the mid-1990s over the vehement objections of ranchers and sportsmen, who see the animals as a threat to livestock and big-game animals such as elk and deer.

Environmentalists say the impact of wolves on cattle herds and wildlife is overstated and that the recent removal of federal safeguards could push the wolf back to the brink.

Wolves have long been vilified in the region as a menace, symbolizing for some a distant federal bureaucracy imposing its rules on the West.

"They're putting us and our way of life out of business," said Ron Casperson, co-owner of Saddle Springs Trophy Outfitters in Salmon, Idaho. "It makes me sick every day I look at this country. These wolves ... I mean, come on."

State wildlife managers had predicted that such passions would ease once the wolves were de-listed and states gained control. But discourse on the Internet and social networks appears to have grown more hostile.

Some hunters have expressed discomfort at the apparent bloodlust unleashed on the Internet, which they see as tarnishing the reputation of a sport that attracts less than 15 percent of Americans.


"There are two groups -- one supports fair chase and ethical hunting, and the other views the reintroduction of wolves and the recovery with venom," said veteran sportsman Rod Bullis of Helena, Montana.

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Gary Power said he was bombarded with letters and emails from people representing extremes on both sides of the debate.

"There are some folks out there stirring the pot: Get rid of government, get rid of this, they shoved it down our throats, kill them all,' and they are adding to the contentiousness," he said.

Animal rights activists said they are sickened at the online flurry of pictures depicting wolf kills, and alarmed by comments suggesting a growing desire to shoot, trap and snare wolves.

"Roughly $40 million has been spent on wolf recovery, and now we are witnessing the second extermination of wolves in the West," said Wendy Keefover, director of carnivore protection for WildEarth Guardians.

Idaho and Montana are required to maintain about 150 wolves per state each year to prevent federal protection from being imposed again.

But Idaho plans to more than double the number of wolves a hunter may take in some areas for the 2012-13 season, raising their bag limit to 10.

Montana is seeking to raise its wolf-hunt quotas, and state wildlife managers are discussing allowing trapping, which is currently illegal there. At least one Montana county is considering a bounty for wolves killed by licensed hunters.

This week's email threat to the animal advocacy group Footloose Montana raised the acrimony to a new level.

The image posted on its Facebook page was taken from the website, including text that joked about the wolf being shot and wounded by a passersby after it was caught -- "lucky they were not real good shots."

The photo went viral over the Internet last weekend, and on Monday Footloose Montana received the email threat.

The message said "I would like to donate a gun to your childs (sic) head to make sure you can watch it die slowly so I can have my picture taken with it's (sic) bleeding dying screaming for mercy body." Then the email, a copy of which Footloose gave to Reuters, said the recipients would be the next targets.

A Missoula Police Department detective, Sergeant Travis Welsh, confirmed this week that investigators were looking into a "report from a local institution about a malicious email."

Footloose Executive Director Anja Heister said FBI agents had interviewed a member of her group about the threat, but an FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.

By Tuesday,, a site whose mission statement declares, "Always keep in mind that we are the true protectors of wildlife and the wild places in which the animals live," had removed pictures of dead or dying wolves and commentary.

(Editing by Steve Gorman, Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

Photos of live, trapped wolf prompt threats to Missoula-based group

By John S. Adams, Great Falls Tribune 203300316/Photos-live-trapped-wolf-prompt-threats-Missoula-based-group?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

HELENA - A Missoula-based anti-trapping organization said it received a threatening email this month after the group posted graphic photos on the Internet of a live Idaho wolf caught in a foot-hold trap.

Anja Heister, executive director of Footloose Montana, on March 22 posted a series of photos gleaned from an online trapping forum called on her personal and Footloose Montana Facebook sites.

Heister said she opened Footloose Montana's email inbox on Monday and found what she believed to be a death threat directed at family members of the organization:

"I would like to donate (sic) a gun to your childs (sic) head to make sure you can watch it die slowly so I can have my picture taken with it's (sic) bleeding dying screaming for mercy body. YOU WILL BE THE TARGET NEXT BITCHES!" the message read.

Heister said the email was in response to the group posting photos of a northern Idaho trapper's March 18 wolf kill, which was detailed on the online trapping forum.

The photos show trapper Josh Bransford, a fire management officer for the Nez Perce National Forest, kneeling and smiling for the camera as a wolf he caught in a foot-hold trap stands behind him in a ring of blood-soaked snow. Another photo shows a close-up of the wolf's paw caught in the trap. A third photo shows the trapper posing with his catch.

Heister said Footloose Montana, which is actively campaigning to ban trapping in Montana, has received plenty of hostile emails and phone calls since 2007 but never anything that rose to this level.

"It has a cumulative effect on your psyche," Heister said. "I'm not easily scared, but when I read this I got really concerned."

Heister said she reported the threatening email to local and federal law enforcement officials. Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welch confirmed the department received the report of the malicious email and that it was assigned to an investigator, but he declined to comment further.

In an online blog on Earth Island Journal's website, writer James William Gibson recounted what Bransford -- who goes by the handle "Pinching" -- wrote about the photos. Bransford's post has since been removed.

"I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS (Forest Service) cop that I know. You got one up here," the post said, and then continued, "there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already," the post read, according to Gibson.

According to Bransford the wolf was a 100-pound male with "no rub spots" making an "good wall hanger."

Bransford did not return calls or emails seeking comment Thursday.

As of late Thursday the photos posted on Footloose Montana's Facebook page had received nearly 900 comments. Online commenters on both the Earth Island Journal and the Footloose Montana Facebook page expressed outrage over the photos. Many viewers were angry Bransford posed for a portrait with the wounded wolf before killing it.

Dave Linkhart, spokesman for the National Trappers Association, said there's nothing wrong with a trapper posing with his catch before killing the animal.
"You pose with a successful catch just like you do with a successful hunt," Linkhart said. "People make the problem of attributing human feelings and emotions to these animals."

Linkhart claimed trapped animals don't suffer, so taking the time to shoot a photograph does not cross ethical boundaries.

"If you look at the trap -- across the pad of the foot like that -- if you were to release the animal it would walk away like nothing happened," Linkhart said.
Marc Bekoff is a former professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder and fellow of the Animal Behavior Society who has studied the social behavior of wolves and coyotes, among other animals.
"That wolf was suffering immeasurably. Not only physically by having his foot locked in a trap, but also being shot at," said Bekoff, the author of several books on animal psychology and emotion. "This was not hunting. This was having an animal having its foot smashed in trap and then shooting at it with bullets. This wolf was tortured."

Linkhart said if the wolf was shot at, that isn't the trapper's fault.

"Somebody else came up there and shot that animal first. That is illegal. What the trapper has done here is not," Linkhart said. "The problem was not the trap. It was the illegal activity of the hunters who shot at that wolf."

Reach Tribune Capital Bureau Chief John S. Adams at 442-9493, or . Follow him on Twitter@TribLowdown

Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM PDT

Idaho wolves in serious trouble (graphic images)

Ever since Obama and John Tester worked to remove wolves form the endangered species list for political purposes, it's been bad times for wolves. Of course, there's a track record for all of this. It was the failure of the states that initially killed off the wolves to begin with, forcing them into the government's hands and the Endangered Species List.

It looks like the states are at it again, and this time Idaho is leading the path to extermination.

There were many of us who cried foul when Tester introduced a rider that would undermine the ESA, the first of its kind, opening the door for wholesale destruction of species by single interests. It was even more shocking when Obama signed the bill into law.

Reasonable people would expect a few wolves to be killed with rifles, and that many of these would be clean. But there's nothing reasonable about the wolf hate in Idaho , Montana , and Wyoming .

Recent images have become available of a trapped wolf at the far end of a blood circle in the snow. In the photo, a hunter appears to be smiling for a pose. Posters to the website indicate the wolf was shot at while it waited for the trapper to return. Who knows how long it was there, but it looked like quite a while with all that blood in the snow.

WARNING: Do not view these photos unless you can handle graphic images:

Those who read the forum comments may find the comments that describe the scene disturbing. The apparent outright hate for such a beautiful animal species is shocking, and shows the very worst of human nature.

On top of these disgusting events, there looks to be big trouble at the top of the Idaho Game and Fish Commission, where at a recent meeting Commission Chair Tony McDermott made unsubstantiated population estimates of 1200-1600 wolves in Idaho , which is far above the 560-575 wolves reported to be in the state on January 1. Wildlife experts in the know countered the ridiculous claim, but no science was given to back the numbers.

The stated goal of Idaho Wolf management by the state is 150 wolves, or fifteen breeding pairs.

Idaho has more public land than most places in the lower 48, and more wilderness as well. The state can easily hold far more wolves, and some feel such a low number would make the packs nonviable.

You can read more about the Idaho meeting, in which most attendees supported cutting back on the hunt, here:

Wolves are being shot from the air by helicopters. They are being trapped, and dying slow, painful deaths. This is not what people expected when we delisted our symbol of wilderness.

If there's a bright spot in any of this, it's that the wolves can be put back on the Endangered Species List if their populations fall below 150, or if states show a management policy that endangers the animals. But with biased state game agencies responsible for the counting, when using bad numbers, whose to say how many wolves there really are? At the very least, the counting program should be done at the federal level, away from the state influence which is easily corrupted.

History is repeating itself. Once again, states are attempting to exterminate the wolf, and Idaho is leading the way. Will they succeed again? Will the wolf be put back on that list? Take a look at the photos, friends.

John tester, you made a mistake. President Obama, you made a mistake. Time to right a wrong.

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Trapping And Killing Wolves With A Smile�.

warning graphic videos

These two are having themselves a great time, snaring and trapping wolves, laughing their heads off. Killing animals is so much fun isn�t it? I mean what�s not to love about a wolf being strangled to death??

The videos were shot in Canada but there are pictures on the Internet showing extreme cruelty to wolves caught in traps and snares in Idaho . They�re hard to watch but necessary. This evil cannot be hidden anymore, it needs to be spread far and wide for people to see. Wildlife have no protection from this madness. This is legalized animal torture. What does this say about us as a culture? Can we sit silently by while these animals are brutally killed?

How many Idaho wolves are stuck in traps or snares right now, without food or water, scared to death, in excruciating pain waiting to die? Or choking slowly to death in snares. Is this what we brought wolves back for? Spent millions of taxpayer dollars, only to slaughter them back into extermination? Where is the outrage? Are we just going to sit by and watch this happen? Idaho has killed half of it�s wolves, 368 are dead in the state. 534 DEAD in the Northern Rockies and that�s not counting Wildlife Service killings, poaching, 10j and general wolf mortality. Pregnant alphas are being slaughtered. When is the media going to cover this story? Shame on your silence!

Traps and snares are indiscriminate killers. Wolf pups, dogs or any animal, wild or domestic, is at risk.

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people�s minds�Samuel Adams

Speak Out For Them!

Governor Butch Otter
Mailing Address:
999 Main St, Suite 910
Boise , ID 83702
Phone: 208-334-2100
Fax: (208) 334-3454


Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners
Panhandle Region
Tony McDermott


Clearwater Region
Fred Trevey

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Bob Barowsky

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Wayne Wright

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Randy Budge

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Kenny Anderson

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Gary Power


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IDFG Director Virgil Moore:
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Jon Rachael, IDFG Wildlife Dept.
(208) 334-2920
Idaho Fish and Game General Numbers Click Here

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Video: YouTube
Photo: fish and game
Posted in: Animal Cruelty, Idaho wolves, Wolf Wars
Tags: wolf snaring, choking snares, wolf suffering, wolf hunts, where�s the outrage

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