National Animal Rights Groups Push For Cruelty Charges Over Wyoming Wolf Abuse

Two national animal rights groups are calling on Sublette County officials to bring animal cruelty charges against a local man who allegedly captured, tortured and killed a wolf in Daniel, Wyoming.

Mark Heinz

April 05, 20243 min read

Wyoming wolf 4 5 24
(Getty Images)

UPDATE: Photo Shows Wyoming Man With Tormented Wolf Before It Was Killed

Animal rights groups are pressuring Sublette County officials to bring stiffer penalties against a local man who allegedly captured, tormented and killed a wolf Feb. 29.

But it’s unclear whether any further charges could be filed under Wyoming statutes, Sublette County Attorney Clayton Melinkovich told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

As of Friday afternoon, no documents from a law enforcement agency calling for further charges in the case had come across his desk, he said.

“I can’t do anything independently on my own until something comes to me from a peace officer,” Melincovich said.

If and when such documents are sent to his office, Melincovich said he could make a determination whether to file charges against local resident Cody Roberts.

And even then, animal cruelty and/or wildlife harassment charges might not apply because of wolves’ status as a “predatory animal” in that part of Wyoming.

Animals Rights Groups Want More

According to accounts of the incident, a man captured a wolf after running it down with a snowmobile. He then allegedly took it to his residence, and then showed it off at a bar in Daniel, Wyoming, before taking out behind the bar and killing it.

Sublette County Circuit Court records show that Roberts was cited for a wildlife violation stemming from an incident that day, Feb. 29, and that Adam Hymas was the investigating agent.

A $250 fine for illegal possession of a live wild animal was issued in the case.

Two Washington, D.C.-based groups — Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy — sent a letter to Melinkovich and Sublette County Sheriff K.C. Lehr asking them to bring more criminal charges in the case.

Melincovich confirmed that he had seen the letter.

It reads in part that: “Roberts’ actions clearly warrant a punishment more severe than the $250 ticket he received for possession of live wildlife — such an anemic response on the part of law enforcement will be seen by some as tacit approval of his crime and can only motivate other like-minded individuals driven by hatred of wolves to engage in similar, repugnant behavior.”

What Laws Would Even Apply?

As a predatory species in Sublette County, wolves would not fall under Wyoming’s animal cruelty statutes.

Wyoming legislator Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, who also served on the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force, previously told Cowboy State Daily that trying to change animal cruelty laws because of one egregious case would be an exercise in futility.

Wildlife harassment statues could possibly apply in cases of tormenting big game or trophy game animals in Wyoming, but probably not a predatory species, Melincovich said.

How wolves are classified in Wyoming depends upon which part of the state they’re in.

Inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, they’re classified as fully protected. In trophy hunting zones adjacent to the parks, they’re classified as trophy game animals — meaning that in those locations, the wildlife harassment charges could possibly apply.

But in most of the rest of Wyoming, including the area where the alleged capture, torment and killing of the wolf took place, they are classified as a predatory species. That classification also includes such species as jackrabbits, coyotes and foxes, animals for which cruelty and harassment charges would not apply.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter