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  • Writer's pictureDavid Stalling

The Horrific Torture of a Wolf in Wyoming: How Ignorance, Fear and Hatred Drives Wolf Management

By Dave Stalling

The recent chasing, crippling, capturing, tormenting, torturing and killing of a wolf in Wyoming is the latest, perhaps most brutal, symptom of the disdain and irrational hatred many people have towards wolves. 

According to news reports, on February 29, a man named Cody Roberts, of Daniel, Wyoming, chased and ran over a wolf with his snowmobile, wounded the animal, taped the wolf’s snout shut and took the crippled wolf first to his home, and then to a local bar to show the animal off. Eventually, he killed the wolf behind the tavern. When the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WFGD) was tipped off about this horrific act, Cody Roberts was cited. His fine? $250. 

He didn’t even have to go to court. He paid the fine. Case closed. 

When Cody Roberts chased, wounded, tortured, tormented and killed a wild native wolf, the only Wyoming law he broke regards the keeping of a live, wild animal. (A misdemeanor violation of Wyoming Game and Fish Commission regulations, Chapter 10, Importation and Possession of Live, Warm-Blooded Wildlife.) That’s it. He chased, wounded and captured the wolf within the 80-percent of Wyoming where wolves are classified as “Predatory Animals,” and can be killed year round with no restrictions. Yes, even running wolves down with snowmobiles is legal.

(In the rest of the state, near Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, wolves are classified as “Trophy Game” and can be killed with some restrictions on limits, seasons and methods.) 

I’ve spent enough time in rural western bars to easily imagine the scene when Cody Roberts arrived with a wounded suffering wolf. The laughter, the cheers, the free drinks for Cody Roberts, the toasts to crippled wolves, the slaps on the back, the shouts of oft-repeated phrases such as, “The only good wolf is a dead wolf,” “Shoot, shovel and shut up,” “Smoke a pack a day,” “Kill a wolf, save 100 elk.” 

If anyone in that bar was at all appalled and disgusted by Cody Roberts’ actions (and there likely was; somebody called in the anonymous tip to WFGD), they probably didn’t speak out for fear of being ridiculed and ostracized. Small towns can be that way. Not many folks care for “damn wolf lovers.”  

This is the atmosphere. This is the culture. This is the disturbing level of social acceptance and apathy that exists towards the fear, disdain and hatred of wolves. On social media posts regarding the story I saw numerous comments in defense of Cody Roberts. “Good for him!” “He deserves a medal!” 

The mismanagement of wolves reflects local sentiments. Killing takes priority over efforts to coexist with wolves. Management is guided by politics driven by fear-mongering myths, lies and misconceptions about wolves. Ignorance prevails over science. 

What does science tell us about wolves? They evolved as predators, with little predation. They are self-regulating in population sizes. They have strong bonds and family-units, intricate social structures and breeding, rearing and territorial behaviors. When certain individuals are killed, much of this is altered and disrupted, throwing packs into disarray, which can increase the population size and increase human conflicts such as livestock depredation, exacerbating problems managers claim to be solving by killing wolves.

But people like Cody Roberts don’t care about science. He’s among the numerous hunters who believe and propagate the easily-refuted myths, lies and misconceptions. As David Allen, former director of a hunting group called the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation once put it: “Wolves are the worst ecological disaster since the decimation of bison . . . They’re decimating our elk herds . . . We need to kill more wolves and go after grizzlies next.” 

It doesn’t matter that elk populations, hunting opportunity and hunting success rates are as high as ever. It doesn't matter that Wyoming has such an overabundance of elk that the state is considering issuing "All You Can Kill" elk permits to ranchers. Truth doesn’t matter. They hate wolves. Unfortunately, hunters also have most of the influence and control over state wildlife agencies such as WGFD. 

And what do some of my fellow hunters think of the recent wounding, capturing, torturing and killing of a wolf? 

According to the Cowboy State Daily, Wyoming hunters Matt Eastman and Zach Key are worried about how this horrific incident “plays right into the hands of anti-hunting groups.” 

Key is quoted saying, “What I don't like is the anti-groups are going to use this as ammunition against the majority of us law-obedient citizens. I would never do something like that, but yet I will get my rights to hunt wolves pulled because of his boneheaded stunt.” 

Randy Newberg, who kills animals for profit and entertainment for the Outdoor Channel, is quoted in a WyoFile story saying, “It diminishes the very valid claim we have for being some of wildlife’s greatest allies. I don’t know that anybody could look at [that incident] and say, ‘This is good for the future of hunting.’” 

Yet Newberg, in a two-part hunting show on killing wolves, has vilified wolves, saying that “all hunters have a responsibility to kill wolves,” and that those who don’t hunt “have no business telling us how to manage wildlife.”

At the end of his wolf hunting show, after Newberg’s friend Matt Clyde shoots a wolf from nearly 500 yards — wounding the animal on the first two shots, and finally killing the wolf on the third shot — Newberg (after congratulating Clyde on such a “great shot!”) says, “I’m going to hunt wolves every day I can that’s legal. Every day that I have a tag. Every time I can protect these elk herds, I will be there. I will have my rifle, and I will have my tags, and the wolves will be in trouble.”

I am an avid and passionate hunter. I kill and eat elk and deer. I don’t know that anybody could watch Newberg’s show and say, “This is good for the future of hunting.”

Cody Roberts probably watched the show. Lots of hunters do. A lot of them learn to hate and fear wolves. Unfortunately, they influence and control the horrific mismanagement. 

It’s time to reform wildlife management so that all citizens have a say, and all species are protected — including wolves.

An avid hunter, angler and wildlife advocate, Dave Stalling is the founder of Hunters and Anglers for Wildlife Management Reform and serves on the Advisory Committee for Wildlife For All.

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4 comentários

18 de abr.

from the brutalized female wolf pup - who deserves a voice...

The roar of the machine starts me running. My family bolts and scatters. My entire pack, mom, dad, siblings, aunts, uncles - who together raise my brothers and sisters and me to understand our world – all wolves know this sound. We flee in terror, running.

I know speed. I run low and fast for a good distance, then the deep snow and my fear exhaust me, for I am just a pup. Machine closes in. I swerve. Pain rips through my hind leg and side, my neck cracks with the blow and I am crushed under the weight of a massive metal bison. Terror rips through my mind,…


David Neils
David Neils
17 de abr.

I strongly believe that there are enough citizens of voting age in each state who would support wildlife management that successfully acknowledges and supports the biological and ecological factors that each wildlife species needs to thrive. In short, the welfare of wildlife, all wildlife, should be the focus of all wildlife management. This is not the case with our state wildlife agencies. The organization clearly spells this out along with areas where citizens can take action.

The torture and abuse of predators in Wyoming has been the culture for decades, supported throughout government, especially from Wyoming agriculture. Abuse of fellow humans often begins with abuse of animals. This has been proven time and time again. Wyoming tops the list…


12 de abr.

They are deeply disturbed psychopaths. This is not hunting by any means..sickening.


Marcella Crane
Marcella Crane
07 de abr.

Thank you for writing this, it was a hard and truly sad read that there is so much hatred and misinformation on a species like the wolf. The whole view and system need to change about how to live with predators, but as long as those that believe in the lies, are embedded with the policymakers, I fear not much will change. The outcome of this p.o.s.'s piddly fine shows WY Government does not care.

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