Hunter Shoots Wolf in North Dakota

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According to the Grand Forks Herald, a coyote hunter accidentally shot a wolf east of Hillsboro North Dakota. Upon discovering his mistake the hunter reported the wolf to local wildlife officials and FWS is investigating the case.

A longtime state game warden, Rankin said he’s never encountered a gray wolf in the Red River Valley, although a coyote hunter shot one along the Red River north of Grand Forks perhaps 15 or 20 years ago.


I'm in law enforcement (city

I'm in law enforcement (city PD, not game warden)...but from a professional standpoint, I hope they do not prosecute him.  I'm not sure what elements are needed for that offense (shooting a wolf), but I would imagine it would be hard to prove his mental culpability.

He made a mistake any of us could have made, he had no intent to commit a crime.  If it's a strict liability issue (ie-no intent required), then I hope discretion and common sense rule.

 If they file charges, it sets a bad precedent for the future, considering he did the right thing by reporting it.  The next guy is going to hide it and leave...

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Hey RJ, I am in Law

Hey RJ, I am in Law Enforcement too, and let me ask you this:

How many times have you stopped someone for speeding in a 35 MPH zone, and they tell you "Sorry, I thought it was a 55 MPH zone"?  Now, it could have been an honest mistake, or he could be giving you a line of $#$%.  However, if you give one person a break, you have to start giving them all a break. 

The fact is, as long as it is properly posted, it is their responsbility to know the speed limit and abide by it.

This guy needs to make sure of his target before he shoots.  Yes, even I think it would be damn difficult to tell the difference if you are a couple hundred yeards away, but still, if you are hunting in an area that has wolves and coyotes, it's your responsibility. 

Should they hammer him hard?  Absolutely not.  I don't think they should seize anything, or take away his license.  Just make him pay some sort of "replacement" fee, and move on. 

Ca, I definitely understand

Ca, I definitely understand the speeding analogy, and you make a good point.  As you know though, each decision to write (prosecute) is a case-by-case basis, even when chasing tail-lights.  Do most get a ticket?  Yes, because we've heard just about everything and our BS detector is usually spot on.

Admittedley the information is limited to one newspaper article.  Just going off everything we know, wolves aren't known to be in the area, and he did the stand up thing in reporting it.

Maybe I'm getting soft, but it would be hard to see him get jammed up.  He was intending to lawfully shoot coyotes, freakishly calls in a wolf, shoots it, then self reports himself to the game warden.

I'm not familiar with how wildlife officers conduct their investigations, so I'm anxious to see how this plays out.

hunter25's picture

This could be a touchy one

This could be a touchy one and I am very interested to see how it turns out. The man did the right thing and reported what he had done and hopefully will be treated as such. Unfortunately I have seen many times when this did not make a difference and the offender was severely punished anyway.

Hopefully it works out and the message sent is that honesty truly is best. The real kicker would be if leagal hunting ends up getting reinstated and he could still have a record for his mistake.


I'm surprised that North Dakota does not have more wolves considering how many states around them do.

groovy mike's picture

Let's hope for common sense

Let's hope for common sense from the law enforcement folks in this case. The hunter has done the right thing. Let's hope that he doesn't get in rouble for comming forward and being honest about making the mistake. I can't see how they can blame him for shooting a wolf where none are expected and coyotes are.


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Well, technically speaking,

Well, technically speaking, you need to know what you are shooting before pulling the trigger.

I know that it would be incredibly hard to tell the difference, and I doubt I could at a distance because size seems to be the only issue, but the law is the law.  They don't give alot of leeway, especially with federally protected species.

It is good to see that he realized his mistake, and called the game warden by himself.

Hopefully that will go a little way towards their decision to prosecute or not.  If they do, let's hope it's not too bad of a penalty.

BikerRN's picture

Blind Devotion

Sorry Ca_Vermonster but blind devotion to the law without the ability to apply critical thinking does nobody, you, society, the alleged victim, and any others any good.

The law needs to be applied in a fair and just fashion that has the ability to recognize a common mistake. failure to do that leads to facism. Sadly I feel that this hunter will be persecuted by the federal government no matter the intention of the act.

This also is why I tell people to follow the 3S Model when shooting or hunting in wolf country. 

I don't want you to think I'm trying to pick a fight with you, as that is not my intention. I think we merely have a different view on matters and as far as I'm concerned that's OK. I hope that we can be cordial, if not agreeable, to each other.


jaybe's picture

Although I have never seen a

Although I have never seen a wolf in the wild, I can imagine that it's pretty easy to mistake one for a coyote - especially from a distance.

In our Hunting Regulations Booklet it has drawings of both a wolf and a coyote side by side showing the differences They are not great. The tail is usually carried a little differently, and, of course, the wolf is almost always larger. That could be difficult to judge from a distance, however, and then you also have small wolves and large coyotes to consider.

Not an easy thing, in my opinion. I believe the hunter did the right thing; I wonder what the outcome will be, especially since wolves are not normally found in this area.