Minnesota Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Wolf

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Steve D. Bailey, 49, of Floodwood, recently pleaded guilty to killing a wolf that was, at the time, on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected species list.

State conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received a call from Bailey on Nov. 7, 2004, who stated that he was deer hunting in a ground blind near Floodwood when the wolf approached his son's location. Concerned for his son's safety he said he fired several shots to scare away the wolf. When the wolf continued toward his son, Bailey said he killed the animal.

The officers reconstructed the scene, mapping the location of the deer blind, the wolf's travel route, where the wolf was shot at the first time, the location of the wolf after it was killed and an area where deer were seen near the Baileys' location. An agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided assistance with ballistics. When presented with the evidence, Bailey plead guilty to shooting the wolf, which was a protected species at the time of the incident.

Now sentenced, Bailey will pay a $500 fine, $2,000 restitution, and lose his hunting privileges in Minnesota and other Wildlife Violator Compact states for one year.

The Wildlife Violator Compact includes a reciprocal agreement that license suspensions in one state will be honored in other states. Losing license privileges in Minnesota are extended to other member states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Minnesota's wolf population was officially removed from the federal endangered species list earlier this year and is being managed by the DNR.

Based on Minnesota law, the state wolf plan is designed to protect wolves and monitor their population while giving owners of livestock and domestic pets more protection from wolf depredation. It splits the state into two management zones with more protective regulations in the northern third, considered the wolf's core range.

The endangered species act requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor wolves in Minnesota for five years after delisting to ensure that recovery continues.

The state wolf plan has new provisions for taking wolves that are posing risks to livestock and domestic pets. Owners of livestock, guard animals or domestic animals may shoot or destroy wolves that pose an immediate threat to their animals, on property they own or lease in accordance with local statutes. "Immediate threat" means the observed behavior of a gray wolf in the act of stalking, attacking or killing livestock, a guard animal or a domestic pet under the supervision of the owner.

Additionally, the owner of a domestic pet may shoot or destroy a gray wolf posing an immediate threat on any property, as long as the owner is supervising the pet. In all cases, a person shooting or destroying a gray wolf under these provisions must protect all evidence and report the taking to a DNR conservation officer within 48 hours. The wolf carcass will be surrendered to the conservation officer.

In the southern two-thirds of the state, a person may shoot a gray wolf at any time to protect livestock, domestic animals or pets on land they own, lease or manage. The circumstance of "immediate threat" does not apply. A DNR conservation officer must be notified within 48 hours. The wolf carcass will be surrendered to the conservation officer. Also in this area, a person may employ a state certified predator controller to trap wolves on or within one mile of land they own, lease, or manage.