Wyoming Legislative Group Will Consider Response To Wolf Torture

Legislators agreed Wednesday to study possible reform of the state’s wildlife policy in light of the wolf torture earlier this year. But one lawmaker urged restraint so not to "accommodate out-of-state people who don’t have much common sense."

Mark Heinz

May 16, 20244 min read

Cody Roberts of Daniel, Wyoming, poses and teases a young wolf he's accused of running down with a snowmobile and abusing before killing it.
Cody Roberts of Daniel, Wyoming, poses and teases a young wolf he's accused of running down with a snowmobile and abusing before killing it. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wyoming lawmakers took to solid step Wednesday toward responding to widespread public outcry over the torture and killing of a wolf in Daniel — agreeing to form a legislative subcommittee to look into the matter.

The Legislature’s Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources Committee agreed to form a subcommittee charged with seeking a possible reform of the state’s wildlife policy.

The group will probably focus first possibly raising the penalty for illegal possession of a live wild animal, as well as a penalty for displaying a live wild animal, said committee co-chair Rep. Sandy Newsome, R-Cody.

Wyoming’s predator management policy became a point of fierce controversy after reports emerged that Daniel resident Cody Roberts, 42, had shown off an injured wolf in the Green River Bar before killing the animal.

Court records indicate that a Wyoming Game and Fish Department warden cited Roberts for illegal possession of a live warm-blooded animal, and he forfeited $250 bond.

Many across Wyoming, the nation and the world responded angrily, claiming that $250 wasn’t nearly a stiff enough penalty.

The subcommittee looking into possible changes in policy and penalties will include Rep. Liz Storer, D-Jackson, Rep. John Winter, R-Thermopolis, and Sen. Fred Baldwin, R-Kemmerer.

Also included will be Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik or a designee, Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto or a designee, Wyoming Wildlife Federation Government Affairs Director Jess Johnson and Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna.

A Bill Will Likely Result

A proposed bill for the Legislature’s 2025 general session will likely result from the subcommittee’s work, Winter told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

“There will probably will be some legislation,” he said.

Although the incident in Daniel has brought worldwide attention, any possible changes will focus on Wyoming with guidance from Game and Fish, Winter said.

“I don’t think we need to go full bore to accommodate these out-of-state people who don’t have much common sense,” he said. “We just want to do the right thing and do something that makes sense for Wyoming.”

He added that it isn’t certain whether other options will be considered, such as changing Wyoming’s animal cruelty statues or banning the use of snowmobiles or other vehicles to pursue predators.

According to accounts of events Feb. 29, Roberts ran the wolf down with a snowmobile before capturing it.

Pleased To Hear It

The Wyoming Wildlife Coalition formed in response to the incident in Daniel and has called for such reforms as banning chasing predators with vehicles.

The group was pleased to hear about the formation of the subcommittee, according to statement sent to Cowboy State Daily by spokeswoman Amy Edmonds of Cheyenne.

“We look forward to the numerous ideas that this collaborative process will bring in the months ahead,” the statement says. “We know these ideas will be geared towards bringing our statutes in line with Wyoming values regarding the care of our wildlife.

“Specifically, we would like to see the process produce changes that give law enforcement officials the tools they need to pursue and convict those who, in the future, might commit other acts of violence and torture against wildlife like the acts witnessed in Daniel, Wyoming. We believe this reflects the will of the people of Wyoming.”

The coalition also said it supports “a collaborative process and look forward to being a part of the work of the subcommittee.”

Other Efforts Continue

Other efforts are underway to reform Wyoming’s policy. Prominent dog trainer and social media influencer Jonas Black of Austin, Texas, recently told Cowboy State Daily that he’s organizing a motorcycle rally in honor of the wolf, which he named Hope.

The “Hogs For Hope” rally is set to depart Austin on May 23 and arrive in front of the Green River Bar in Daniel on May 26. A fundraising campaign tied to the rally had netted $50,000 as of Wednesday, according to Black’s social media posts.

During an informal gathering in front of the bar, Black plans to give money raised by the rally to representatives of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Wolves of the Rockies to be used for boosting predator policy reforms.

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

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter