Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks ended its investigation today into a Facebook posting from Missoula resident Toby Bridges, where he claimed to have killed a wolf and injured another with his vehicle on Interstate 90 just east of the Idaho border. After having the Mineral County Attorney’s office review the investigation, FWP will not be filing any charges in this case.
FWP was first notified of the Facebook posting on September 17, and game wardens initiated an investigation the next day.
“In Montana, harassing or intentionally killing wildlife with a motor vehicle is illegal, and we take reports of such incidents very seriously,” said FWP Warden Captain, Joe Jaquith.
On September 18, wardens investigated the area described in Bridges’ online account, and found a wolf carcass off the shoulder of the road that was consistent in size and color with the online photo. The carcass, however, was far more decomposed than typical for a wolf killed at the time Bridges reported to have struck the wolf. Wardens found no physical evidence of a collision on or near the Interstate.
Wardens also searched surrounding hillsides for signs of the second wolf that Bridges claimed to have hit and injured. They could not locate any signs of a carcass or injured wolf, including evidence of blood, tracks, hair, odors, or scavengers.
Wardens interviewed Bridges and used his photographs from the scene for further investigation by other law enforcement officials and wildlife specialists.
A Montana Highway Patrol crash scene investigator analyzed Bridges’ photograph from the scene and concluded that based on the photograph, the vehicle had not been involved in an accident. No accident report had been filed.
Wardens searched for potential witnesses and worked with the Montana Department of Transportation as part of the investigation, but no witnesses came forward.
“In typical cases involving harassment or killing of wildlife with a vehicle, there has always been either a witness to the event, and/or fresh physical evidence that could be directly tied to the violation,” Jaquith said. “In this particular case the only witness appears to be Mr. Bridges, the vehicle shows no evidence of having been in an accident, and the lack of any other physical evidence supporting the claim precludes the filing of criminal charges.”
Brooks Fahy Executive Director
by Robbie Reynold – KPAX News
MISSOULA – A Missoula man is under investigation by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks because of a controversial Facebook posting.
“This is one of the more ghoulish, gorish, postings I’ve ever seen,” said Predator Defense Executive Director Brooks Fahy.
You have to see it to believe it – pictures of a dead wolf posted on a Facebook page titled Lobo Watch, which is an anti-wolf organization.
A written message accompanies the pictures, which were posted on Sept. 16 – recounting an Aug. 14 incident in which a man driving his wife’s van ran over two wolves.
“When we first became aware of the post, it was right away something that we knew we needed to take seriously and to look into,” FWP spokesperson Vivica Crowser explained.
FWP is investigating the incident to determine whether or not the wolves were run over intentionally.
The message on Facebook is signed by Lobo Watch’s leader, Toby Bridges, who says he was driving on Interstate 90 near the Idaho-Montana border when he saw a calf, an elk cow, and four wolves.
Bridges wrote that the wolves were going after the calf, and that he decided to let off the brake and hit the accelerator.
The post said, “I was going to save that calf,” and goes on to say he heard two distinct “thumps”. He returned to the scene to find the dead wolf and another hobbling off with a broken leg.
Crowser told MTN news that investigators are now looking for more evidence related to the incident.
“Social media in itself isn’t enough. You have to uncover more through the case as you go along and finding things – like evidence on the scene or through other witnesses,” she said.
Fahy says he believes Montana should do more to protect wolves – especially against an incident like this.
“There’s an archery season, a trapping season, and a general hunting season for wolves. And there is no season to basically run over wolves with automobiles purposely.”
John S. Adams
Editor’s note: What follows is a graphic description that may be difficult for some readers.
HELENA – A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks law enforcement official said Friday the agency is “looking into” a Missoula anti-wolf extremist’s Facebook claim that he purposefully ran down a pair of wolves on Interstate 90 just east of the Idaho-Montana border.
Montana FWP Region 2 Warden Capt. Joseph Jaquith said they were aware of Toby Bridges’ Facebook post in which he brags about killing two young wolves with his wife’s van.
“We’re trying to determine, first of all, what exactly we can do with something somebody says on Facebook with no other physical evidence,” Jaquith said. “Whether or not it’s true remains to be seen.”
Bridges, who runs an anti-wolf website and Facebook page called Lobo Watch, on Tuesday posted pictures on Facebook and described in graphic detail how he accelerated his vehicle in an apparent attempt to intentionally run down the wolves.
Bridges did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Bridges described a scene in which he claims a group of wolves were chasing a cow and calf elk across the highway about four miles east of Lookout Pass. Bridges said he “let off the brake and hit the accelerator.”
“Just past MM4 (mile maker 4), a cow elk and calf suddenly ran right out onto Interstate 90, and I let up on the gas and had just started to brake — in case more elk followed,” Bridges wrote. “What followed were two adult wolves. The cow jumped over the concrete barrier separating (sic) West and East traffic lanes, the calf stayed on ‘my’ side — and both were running up the highway, toward the pass. The wolves went after the calf … and I let off the brake and hit the accelerator. I was going to save that calf.”
Bridges said his vehicle was driving approximately 55 mph “when suddenly four young wolves shot right out in front of me.
MISSOULA — Private landowners may kill up to 100 wolves a year they believe are threatening livestock, dogs or people under a new state law that doesn’t count toward Montana’s wolf-hunting season.
But Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners opted to monitor those landowner killings in blocks of 25 instead of an earlier plan to allow 50 kills before review. The decision came during the commission’s meeting in Missoula on Thursday.
The landowner quota is separate from the state’s annual wolf hunt. Hunters must have a wolf license and operate during an annual season, while landowners or their agents can kill wolves “that are a potential threat to human safety, livestock or domestic dogs” at any time of year. That option comes from Senate Bill 200, passed in the last Legislature.
Landowners may also kill wolves in the act of attacking livestock without affecting the 100-animal quota.
But they can only use that privilege on private land — not on public-land grazing allotments. And while landowners may allow private hunters to kill threatening wolves on their property under the quota, the landowner (not the hunter) would be responsible for any illegal wolf kill.
So, for example, if a rancher told elk hunters on his land they had his permission to shoot wolves near his cattle, they could do so under the landowner quota without using their hunting licenses. But if a hunter killed a wolf after the quota was exceeded or somewhere that the wolf posed no believable threat, the landowner could be liable for the violation.
On Thursday, the commissioners also set rules for the 2014-15 wolf hunting season, which remained generally the same as last year. The coming rifle season will run from Sept. 15 to March 15, with a bag limit of five wolves per hunter. Two hunting districts near Yellowstone National Park have quotas of three wolves, to protect packs popular with wildlife watchers in the park.
Hunters have no quota on wolves except in those areas close to Yellowstone and Glacier National parks. Last year, hunters killed 128 wolves while trappers took another 97.
Landowners have killed far fewer wolves under previous shoot-on-sight rules for livestock protection. FWP wildlife manager Quentin Kujula said the past several years averaged less than 10.
“Landowners want the opportunity to deal with the situation themselves,” FWP director Jeff Hagener said after the unanimous approval of the quota. “They don’t want to wait for compensation for wolf depredation or for (federal) Wildlife Services to arrive. This way, they don’t have additional costs, and we the taxpayers don’t have additional costs.”
That prompted commissioners Matthew Tourtlotte and Gary Wolfe to amend the landowner rule. The original version required commission review after the first 50 wolves were killed. Tourtlotte and Wolfe proposed making checks in 25-kill blocks.
“I’m really concerned about a perception there’s open season on wolves on private land in Montana,” Wolfe said. “This is to give landowners the ability to address legitimate perceived threats, not to create an open season on private land. It’s easier to become more liberal than try and back off in the future.”
Commission chairman Dan Vermillion said estimates of the state’s wolf population show it has been able to absorb the impact of no-quota hunting seasons. Montana has around 600 wolves.
“I think this is the kind of program that helps foster more tolerance for wolves on the landscape,” Vermillion said.
When wolves were protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, Montanans felt powerless to deal with the predators’ impact, and that fostered intolerance for their presence, he argued.
…that Animal Planet spreads their latest wolf lies.
Contact info for Discovery (their corporate parent).
Discovery: 571-262-4899 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 571-262-4899 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Feel free to call them and tell them how you feel. Time to take a stand.
Petition by Elizabeth Huntley
You can leave a comment for Animal Planet at this number 1-571-262-4899 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-571-262-4899 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting – it’s the best way to do so – thank you!
Blood sells but it shouldn’t
I’ve written many essays about how media (print and film) often offers sensationalist and thoroughly misleading stories about various nonhuman animals (animals). Now, Animal Planet is guilty of putting forth sensationalist lies about wolves. Concerning gray wolves, Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense, alerted that they’ve recently written: “Razor sharp teeth, killer instincts, and senses so precise they hear your beating heart, and your fear. They’re on the hunt, and now with numbers growing out of control, they’re threatening humans like never before.”
These lies — there have been only two verified accounts of wolves killing humans — are to publicize Anmal Planet’s series called Monster Week and their episode titled “Man-Eating Super Wolves.”