Bad Timing of Photo Prompts Investigation and Cries of Animal Cruelty
Idaho wolf hunters harvested 373 wolves this season, for the second wolf season after years of controversy. Idaho recently took back the authority to manage the wolf population in their state, and to try and cull the numbers down to more manageable levels, they were pretty lenient in their allowances. Hunters could take 2 wolves per calendar year, they could use calls, they could use traps, but with 43,000 tags sold, only about 1% were successful.
One successful trapper/hunter has received a little more notoriety than others this year. A picture of Nez Perce National Forest Fire Management Officer Josh Bransford has been circulating on the internet. What makes this picture special? Well Bransford is in the forefront of the picture smiling, while a wolf, noticeably trapped, is pacing in the back of the picture still alive. There is a circle of blood soaked snow where the wolf has been pacing.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game said they conducted an investigation. Bransford said he did shoot and kill the animal after arriving, but first posing for the picture. Bransford also told the investigators that the wolf had been shot before he got there, which is why there was so much blood in the snow. With so many wolf hunters out there and a wolf being in the clear, it does make sense, but no one has come forth claiming to have shot the wolf before Bransford got there. Bransford had all the tags, was hunting on private property with permission, was checking his traps daily, everything he did was legal. So the two environmental groups that are pushing for further investigation are seeking what? They want to see if any hunting laws were violated, the answer is no. They want to see if animal cruelty could be at play. With that it's in the eye of the beholder as are a lot of controversial topics.
"We don't agree with some of the actions he took. Everything he did was legal, he just needs to be sensitive to how some folks react to certain things," Dave Cadwallader, supervisor of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Clearwater Region, said. "Trapping is a very valid and viable wildlife management tool. I would suggest you don't take that kind of picture and don't share it on the World Wide Web. I probably would have dispatched the wolf first." From Idaho Mountain Express and Guide and GreatFallTribune.com.