By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
An investigation into the death of several coyotes near Afton has revealed they were shot, not poisoned as initially believed, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced this week.
On March 30, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Jackson office received a report of several dead coyotes found along Wyoming Highway 89, about 23 miles south of Afton, according to a report from the department.
The person reporting the bodies also reported seeing a cooler with packages of processed meat and other body parts at the scene, raising suspicions the coyotes might have been poisoned.
However, the department found no evidence of wildlife violations during its investigation.
A Game and Fish Department law enforcement officer investigated the scene the same day the report was received, but did not find evidence to suggest the coyotes died of poisoning, the departement said.
The coyote carcasses were in varying stages of decomposition, with some obviously having died well before the cooler with meat appeared at the site.
Seven coyote carcasses were intact enough to allow a necropsy and all had gunshot wounds, indicating that was the cause of death, the department said. One bullet and fragments of another bullet were recovered from the carcasses.
Additionally, although evidence of scavengers was documented at the site, an inspection of the area found no dead birds or other wildlife as would be typical of a poisoning incident.
This spot where the carcasses were has long been a popular site for the disposal of animal carcasses.
Under Wyoming state law, coyotes are classified as a predatory animal, and as such, there is no established hunting season or license requirement for the animals.
The Game and Fish Department encourages anyone with information regarding a possible wildlife crime to call their local Game and Fish office or game warden.