Wyoming Wolf Abuser Could Get Hunting Privileges Taken Away

Amid a growing outcry for stiffer penalties in the case of a Sublette County man who allegedly tortured a wolf, a retired federal game warden said it might be possible to revoke the man’s hunting privileges.

Mark Heinz

April 09, 20245 min read

Wolf 8 11 22 scaled
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Amid growing outcry for stiffer penalties in the case of a Sublette County man who allegedly tormented a wolf, a retired federal game warden said it might be possible to revoke the man’s hunting privileges.

Any such revocation would likely be temporary, perhaps three to five years, according to Wyoming statutes.

But it would still be more than the $250 fine issued for alleged illegal possession of a live wolf, so far the only recorded legal action taken in the case.

Retired federal game warden Tim Eicher of Cody told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that a revocation of hunting privileges could indeed apply.

Photograph Tells Terrible Story

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has yet to name the person fined in that case.

According to accounts of the event, Cody Roberts, 42, of Daniel ran down a wolf with a snowmobile and captured it alive. He then allegedly taped the wolf’s muzzle shut and took it to his residence, and then showed it off at a local bar before killing it.

Roberts also has been identified as the man in a photo obtained by Cowboy State Daily posing with a wolf that has red tape around its muzzle.

Stiffer Punishment Might Be In Order

News of the wolf’s reported torment and death sparked an outcry for penalties beyond the reported $250 fine. And those calls reached a fever pitch after Cowboy State Daily published the photo.

While Wyoming’s laws say that’s not likely to be a felony cruelty to animal charge — which many have called for — a revocation of hunting privileges would put more sting into the punishment, Eicher said.

He’s seen it happen in Wyoming in the case of a man initially fined for illegally shooting a crow from his vehicle years ago.

“If a guy shooting a crow out of the window of his pickup gets a six-month revocation of hunting privileges, then there could be something done in this case” of the wolf allegedly being tormented, said Eicher, who was a game warden with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Nailed The First Wolf Poacher

Eicher is familiar with Wyoming wolf management policy because he used to be one of the game agents who oversaw it.

He transferred from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Cody in the mid-1990s, just before the first wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park.

Up until about six years ago, wolves in Wyoming were under federal protection and jurisdiction. USFWS wardens were in charge of investigating cases related to wolves.

Eicher led the investigation of a Montana man who ended up being charged and convicted of the first illegal wolf poaching in the Greater Yellowstone area.

Wolves have since been delisted from federal protection and management of them was handed over to Game and Fish and its sister agencies in Montana and Idaho. All three states allow wolf hunting.

How It Would Work

Eicher said that according to his understanding of Wyoming statutes, revocation of hunting privileges can sometimes be used as an additional punishment in wildlife cases.

The process is simple and straightforward, he said.

Once a person has been convicted of violating a wildlife regulation, game wardens can file a request for revocation of hunting privileges with a county attorney. The case can be brought before a judge, who will then decide whether to revoke the defendant’s hunting privileges, he said.

“There’s two elements” that can start the process. Eicher said. “One, you violated a wildlife regulation. And two, you were convicted.”

In the case of the wolf allegedly being captured in Sublette County, records show that a fine has been paid for the initial offence of illegally possessing a live wolf.

“When you forfeit bail or a fine — i.e., you pay a ticket — that’s a conviction,” Eicher said. “That tells me he (the defendant in the wolf case) is eligible for revocation. But somebody has to go to a county attorney and file it and then get it before a judge.”

The Sublette County Attorney’s office declined to comment on the matter Tuesday, and a request for comment from Game and Fish hadn’t been answered by publication time for this story.

Probably Won’t Be Big Policy Change

Eicher said he appreciates the difficult position that Game and Fish, the Sublette County attorney and others are in because of worldwide attention and anger over the wolf case in Daniel.

But he doesn’t think it will lead to any major changes in Wyoming wildlife policy, such as animal cruelty statues being expanded to include not only domestic animals, but wildlife as well.

Applying animal cruelty statutes to wildlife will probably never fly in Wyoming because it would create opportunities for anti-hunters, Eicher said.

“There’s a legitimate reason why wildlife isn’t included under animal cruelty,” he said. “All it would take is somebody saying, ‘I saw Elmer Fudd out there in his orange suit gut-shoot an elk, and the elk ran around for an hour and a half before it died.’”

Read More Coverage

Director Says Wyoming Game And Fish Not Hiding Anything In Wolf Torment Case

Gov. Gordon Joins ‘Outrage’ Over Torment Of Wyoming Wolf

Wyoming Men With Same Name As Alleged Wolf Tormentor Get Death Threats

Mark Heinz can be reached at mark@cowboystatedaily.com.

Share this article



Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter