When wolves came off the endangered species list in western states like Idaho, wildlife advocates worried how the species would fare without protection. Ranchers aren’t known to be particularly fond of wolves, for starters. In March, a disturbing story confirmed some of advocates’ worst fears: A Forest Service employee had trapped and tortured a wolf in northern Idaho.
The Center for Biological Diversity is asking for an investigation into the incident, Environmental News Service reports. The employee, Josh Bransford, “posted online photos of a wolf he had trapped that was then non-fatally shot by people who saw the animal from a nearby road,” according to ENS. That’s a nice way of saying that a bunch of humans with guns stood around and shot at the wolf, injuring it but not putting it out of its misery. (One of those pictures is after the jump. It’s kind of brutal, so don’t click through if you’re not up for it.)
The story first came to environmentalists’ attention after Bransford described the situation in a since-deleted post on a hunting website:
“I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS [Forest Service] cop that I know. You got one up here as there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already…The big, black male wolf stood in the trap, some 300-350 yards from the road, wounded – the shots left him surrounded by blood-stained snow.”
In the pictures, you can see the wolf limping next a large circle of blood-tinted snow, and Bransford, smiling, kneeling in the foreground.
Since May, Idaho has culled the wolf population in the state from 1,000 or so to 470, according to ENS. Reducing the population is one thing. But this is another entirely — not just ethically, but legally. Idaho requires all would-be trappers to take a training course, and state law requires that all population-control killing be done humanely. So it’s a little bit bananas that conservation groups are having to agitate for Bransford to be disciplined.