After a tip from his ex-wife sparked an investigation, a Powell man is facing 18 wildlife-related misdemeanor criminal charges stemming from allegations that, among other things, he illegally shot and killed four grizzly bears, including two cubs.
Prosecutors claim that Grant L. Cadwallader failed to report killing a charging grizzly that he and another man shot while shed antler hunting in a remote part of the North Fork drainage in Park County sometime between 2017 and 2020, according to court documents.
In a separate incident in roughly the same area, thought to have happenedsometime in 2002-2004, Cadwallader allegedly shot a female grizzly after it charged him while he was shed antler hunting in the Elk Fork Drainage in Park County. He then shot and killed that grizzly’s two cubs, estimated to be about 30 pounds each, according to an affidavit written by Wyoming Game And Fish Department Warden Travis Crane.
During a 2021 interview with Crane and a federal wildlife agent, Cadwallader said he “felt horrible” about killing the cubs.
Multiple Charges, Massive Fines, Possible Prison Time
Cadwallader is charged with two counts of illegally killing a grizzly bear as the species remains under federal protection in Wyoming.
Each of those counts comes with a maximum penalty of a year in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, plus $25,000 in restitution to the state of Wyoming, and a loss of hunting privileges in Wyoming — and most other U.S. states —for six years.
The other 16 charges stem from allegations that Cadwallader illegally possessed wildlife parts, including bighorn sheep skulls and golden eagle feathers and talons. Those charges also come with penalties that includethousands of dollars in fines, loss of hunting privileges and potential prison time.
The Park County Attorney’s Office filed all 18 charges against Cadwallader in a single Circuit Court case in late August. He appeared in court earlier this month, pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was released on his own recognizance. A trial is set for March 7, 2024.
Why’d It Take So Long?
Although Cadwallader is accused of wildlife violations that go back more than 20 years, he didn’t land on the radar of wildlife officials until 2019 when his ex-wife tipped them off, according to court documents. Acting on that tip,Wyoming and federal wildlife agents launched an investigation in, according to court documents.
After obtaining a search warrant for his home, they found numerous allegedly illegal wildlife parts, including golden eagle talons and feathers, bighorn sheep skulls and grizzly claws, according to Crane’s affidavit.
During subsequent interviews with Cadwallader and others, investigators were told that in the more recent grizzly incident, Cadwallader and another man were charged by a bear in thick timber and both shot it. However, they didn’t report the killing to authorities, even though the circumstances as described could have made it a legitimate case of self-defense.
Grizzly bears can’t be legally hunted in Wyoming, but they may be legally killed in cases of legitimate self-defense.
Allegedly Shot Mother Bear, Then Cubs
In the earlier incident dating back to the early 2000s, Cadwallader told investigators that he and another man became separated while doing some spring shed antler hunting in a remote area.
Cadwallader told investigators that he came upon a grassy area and encountered two grizzly cubs playing. Almost immediately, the cubs’ mother stood up, saw him and charged.
He said he fired one shot from a large-caliber revolver, but the grizzly kept coming and “woofing” as it charged, so he two fired more shots. He claimed the female grizzly veered off down a ridge and disappeared.
He told investigators that the cubs then stood up, and he shot and killed them both, according to the affidavit.
Later, he and the other man tracked the female grizzly and found her carcass in a ravine. Cadwallader’s shed-hunting companion told agents that he saw Cadwallader remove claws from the female grizzly’s carcass.
“Cadwallader never reported the shooting because he was scared of being prosecuted and going to jail,” according to Crane’s affidavit.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.