Wildlife Advocates Want Closer Look At Wolf Shot By Hunter

http://kuow.org/post/wildlife-advocates-want-closer-look-wolf-shot-hunter

  NOV 9, 2017
Originally published on November 9, 2017 7:44 pm

 Wildlife advocates want Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to reopen an investigation into an elk hunter’s shooting of a wolf in Eastern Oregon, which was initially ruled self-defense.

In the weeks since, potential discrepancies in the evidence and the account from Oregon State Police have been raised by wolf advocates, a prominent wolf biologist and former Fish and Wildlife Service trapper, as well as a former district attorney in Oregon.

On Oct. 27, a man from Clackamas hunting near La Grande called police to report he’d shot a wolf. He said he encountered three wolves. One charged at him. He told police he feared for his life.

He fired one shot and killed it. The rest scattered.

Police ruled it self defense. It is illegal to shoot a wolf in Oregon, unless it is in self-defense or the wolf is caught in the act of attacking livestock.

The hunter, Brian Scott, could not be reached for comment. On Saturday, he told The Oregonian/Oregonlive he was terrified as he raised his rifle, saw nothing but hair in the scope, and shot.

“People envision this jerk hunter out to kill anything, but that’s not me. It frustrates me they don’t understand,” Scott told The Oregonian/Oregonlive. “I’m a meat hunter. I was looking for a spike elk. This wasn’t exciting. It ruined my hunt.”

Eighteen environmental groups have now petitioned the governor’s office to order a new look at the Oregon State Police investigation, this time with independent oversight from the state attorney general’s office, with cooperation from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“The hunter may have been afraid. We aren’t questioning that. We are, however, questioning why OSP’s report does not give a complete or accurate account of the evidence,” said Quinn Read, with Defenders of Wildlife.

“It’s not about discrepancies in the hunter’s story. To me, the problem is the agency charged with enforcing our state’s wildlife laws either overlooked some evidence, they either misinterpreted it or perhaps misrepresented it,” Read said.

Photographs show the gunshot wound is on the side of the wolf. That’s an unlikely location for a charging animal, said Scott Heiser, a former Benton County district attorney who worked for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Heiser reviewed available evidence at the request of Oregon Wild.

“The photographs publicly available suggest that this wolf was shot in the middle of the right side of her body with an exit wound at the left front shoulder,” Heiser said. “If this is accurate, then that would profoundly contradict a self-defense claim as the presumptive angle of the bullet would suggest the wolf was not charging the shooter at the time he fired the shot.”

Heiser said Oregon State Police should have called for a necropsy of the animal. He said that could have helped determined whether the animal charged but turned at the last second, or some other explanation for the wound location.

Wolf biologist Carter Niemeyer, who spent many years as a wolf tracker for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also said the photographs of the wound appear more consistent with an animal shot from the side, while stationary.

“That’s a pretty well-placed bullet for a snapshot,” said Niemeyer. “Shooting predators, that’s where that scope, crosshairs is usually put. Right on the chest area.”

Niemeyer said because the wolf was a small female — 83 pounds — he would expect it to flee human contact. He said he isn’t judging Scott, the hunter, or questioning whether he was fearful, as he said he was. He thinks a more thorough investigation would have prevented much of the speculation.

The governor’s office and Oregon police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the letter, wolf advocates said self-defense can be an “easy out” for those who kill wolves illegally. Two other wolves in Oregon have been illegally killed since last October. As Oregon’s wolf population has expanded to the point that the state can consider future wolf hunting, those groups fear what will happen without close scrutiny of self-defense claims.

Dominic Aiello, a hunting advocate and president of the Oregon Outdoor Council, said environmental groups are blowing this wolf’s death out of proportion, which will exacerbate the controversial issue of wolf recovery.

He said he doubts Oregon will come to see overwhelming use of the self-defense claim.

“I think if you’re intent on killing a wolf illegally, you’re not going to call OSP to say you’ve actually shot a wolf,” Aiello said. “ Someone’s not going to call the police on themselves after killing a wolf that they didn’t need to kill. It doesn’t make sense.”

Renowned wolf biologist casts doubt on hunter’s story of attack

http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20171106/renowned-wolf-biologist-casts-doubt-on-hunters-story-of-attack

Wolf expert Carter Niemeyer trapped, collared, tracked and sometimes shot wolves during a long career with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Eric MortensonCapital Press
Published on November 6, 2017 1:36PM
A retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist with 30 years experience said it is unlikely a wolf shot by an Oregon elk hunter was attacking the man.

Carter Niemeyer, who lives in Boise and oversaw or consulted on wolf recovery work throughout the West, also said descriptions of the bullet trajectory — in one shoulder and out the other – raise doubt about the hunter’s account that the wolf was running at him when he fired.

“That’s a broadside shot, not a running-at-you shot,” Niemeyer said. “If the bullet path is through one side and out the other, it indicates to me an animal could have been standing, not moving, and the shot was well placed.”

A bullet that hit the wolf as it was running forward most likely would have exited out the hips or rear end, Niemeyer said. He acknowledge the bullet or fragments could have deflected off bone, but said a forensic exam would have to explain that. Michelle Dennehy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman, said the agency did not request a necropsy because the cause of death — gunshot — was known.

Niemeyer said the hunter’s account of taking a “snap shot into a ball of fur” is unlikely.

“I have to tell you I doubt the story,” he said.

Niemeyer, 70, said he’s hunted predators for 52 years as a government hunter and a taxidermist, and has dealt with fellow sportsmen and shooters for decades. “I’ve heard every story,” he said. “This story is very suspect to me.”

The elk hunter, Brian Scott, 38, of Clackamas, Ore., told Oregon State Police that the wolf ran straight at him. Scott told police he screamed, took quick aim and fired his 30.06 rifle once. Scott said he saw nothing but fur in the rifle’s scope as the wolf ran at him, according to published reports.

In an interview with outdoor writer Bill Monroe of The Oregonian/Oregon Live, Scott said he was terrified.

“People envision this jerk hunter out to kill anything, but that’s not me,” he told Monroe. “It frustrates me they don’t understand. I’m a meat hunter. I was looking for a spike elk. This wasn’t exciting. It ruined my hunt.”

Scott told Monroe he didn’t think he had time to fire a warning shot. He could not explain the bullet’s path, which entered the wolf’s right shoulder and exited the left, other than perhaps the wolf turned at the last instant or the bullet deflected.

Niemeyer, the retired wildlife biologist, said wolves will “turn around and take off” when they realize they’re near a human. Niemeyer said he had “many, many close encounters with wolves” while doing trapping, collaring and other field work for USFWS in Idaho, Oregon and elsewhere. He said wolves sometimes ran at him and approached within 6 to 8 feet before veering away.

Wolves are potentially dangerous, he said, “but all my experience tells me it would be fearful of a human.”

People in such situations should stand up if they are concealed, show themselves, and yell or throw things, Niemeyer said. Hunters could fire a shot into the ground or into a tree and “scare the hell out of them,” he said.

“That would have been the first logical thing to do,” he said. “The gunshot and a yell from a human would turn every wolf I’ve ever known inside out trying to get away.”

He also suggested people venturing into the woods should carry bear repellent spray, which certainly would also deter wolves, cougars or coyotes.

“If everyone shoots everything they’re afraid of, wow, that’s not a good thing,” he said.

Niemeyer acknowledged his reaction is based on years of experience with wolves.

“People say, ‘That’s easy for you to say, Carter, you worked with wolves for 30 years and you’re familiar with their behavior,’” he said.

The shooting happened Oct. 27 in ODFW’s Starkey Wildlife Management Unit west of La Grande, in Northeast Oregon.

Scott, the hunter, told police he was hunting and had intermittently seen what he thought might be coyotes. At one point, two of them circled off to the side while a third ran at him. Scott said he shot that one and the others ran away.

Scott went back to his hunting camp and told companions what had happened. They returned to the shooting scene and concluded the dead animal was a wolf. The hunter then notified state police and ODFW, which investigated. Police later found a shell casing 27 yards from the wolf carcass. The Union County district attorney’s office reviewed the case and chose not to file charges.

The Portland-based conservation group Oregon Wild raised questions about the incident. Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild’s field representative in Northeast Oregon, said he’s seen wolves in the wild several times and backed away without trouble or harm. Even the late OR-4, the fearsome breeding male of the infamous Imnaha Pack in Wallowa County, retreated and barked when it encountered Klavins and a hiking party.

“This (hunter) may have felt fear, but since wolves returned to Oregon, no one has so much as been licked by a wolf, and that’s still true today,” Klavins said.

“What has changed is we now have wolves on the landscape, 10 years ago we didn’t,” Klavins said. “Especially in the fall (hunting season), armed people are going to be out encountering wolves.”

Oregon Wild believes poachers have killed several Oregon wolves, and USFWS on Nov. 6 offered a $5,000 reward for information about a collared wolf designated OR-25 that was found dead Oct. 29 in South Central Oregon.

Klavins said wolf shooters might now use a “self-defense” claim as a “free pass to poaching.”

Conservation Groups Join Reward to Catch Oregon Wolf-killer Reward for Information Jumps to $15,500

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2017/wolf-10-24-2017.php

PORTLAND, Ore.— Conservation organizations are bolstering a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services reward for information on the illegal killing of OR-33, a federally protected gray wolf in southwestern Oregon. The Service has offered a $5,000 reward, and five conservation organizations have contributed an additional $10,500, bringing the total to $15,500.

Since 2015 at least eight wolves have been poached or died under mysterious circumstances in Oregon. Those include OR-33, OR-28, OR-22, OR-34, OR-31, an uncollared sub-adult wolf from the Walla Walla pack, and two wolves known as the Sled Springs pair. Poaching is an acute problem in Oregon, which demands serious attention from lawmakers and wildlife management officials — to strengthen and enforce wildlife laws, and to deter and fully prosecute criminals.

“Poaching is a huge and growing problem in Oregon. We need everyone’s help to catch this killer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation groups alike are working together to bring justice for OR-33, and send a message that this vile act won’t be tolerated in our state,” said Quinn Read, Northwest representative of Defenders of Wildlife.

“We can only hope that this reward helps stop the next protected wolf from being killed,” said Joseph Vaile, executive director at the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

“This is a heartbreaking loss for Oregon’s wolves. Wolf recovery in Oregon depends on wolves like OR-33 making their way west and thriving, so his death is a major setback. We hope someone will do the right thing and come forward with information,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“We are helping contribute to the reward fund in the hopes of finding the perpetrator and bringing them to justice. Going forward, we encourage the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to take wolf poaching more seriously,” said Danielle Moser, wildlife coordinator for Oregon Wild.

“The senseless killing of one of Oregon’s iconic wolves is an appalling and serious crime. We are grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their diligent efforts to find those responsible and bring the offender or offenders to justice,” said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Anyone with information about this case should call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (503) 682-6131 or Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888.

Background 
OR-33 was found dead of gunshot wounds near Klamath Falls on April 23. Details about this illegal killing were released on Oct. 11 after the Fish and Wildlife Service completed a necropsy.

OR-33 was a 4-year-old male gray wolf. He dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in northeast Oregon in November 2015. Although he had a collar, it stopped functioning in August 2016.

Killing a gray wolf in the western two-thirds of Oregon is a violation of the Endangered Species Act. It is also a violation of Oregon state game laws and is subject to both criminal and civil penalties. The investigation of this crime is being conducted by the Oregon State Police and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

French sheep farmers protest against protection of wolves

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-farmers-wolves/french-sheep-farmers-protest-against-protection-of-wolves-idUSKBN1CE1OZ

OCTOBER 9, 2017

LYON, France (Reuters) – Farmers trucked hundreds of sheep into a central square in the French city of Lyon on Monday in protest against the government’s protection of wolves, which they blame for livestock deaths and heavy financial losses.

French farmers walk ahead of hundreds of sheep as they stage a protest against the government’s “Plan loup” (wolf project) which protects wolves which the farmers blame for livestock deaths and financial losses, in Lyon, France, October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Pratta

European wolves were hunted to extinction in France in the 1930s but a pair crossed the Alps from Italy in the early 1990s and they now number about 360 in packs scattered across the country, according to wildlife groups.

As their population has rebounded, they have encroached increasingly on farmland.

“10,000 animals killed every year by the wolf,” read one banner

Michele Boudoin, president of the National Sheep Federation, said wolves were costing livestock producers 26 million euros a year compared with 1.5 million euros in 2004.

“Enough with the wolf,” Boudoin exclaimed. “At some point you have to choose between farmers and the wolf.”

A new five-year government plan allows a small number of wolves to be culled each year, according to French media, but farmers are demanding the right to shoot dead any wolf that attacks their herds.

Reporting by Catherine Lagrange in Lyon; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Gareth Jones

Signable Petition Demands Zinke to Reject HJR 69, Trump’s Bear Cub/Wolf Pup Killing Bill

Best to click on url:

http://www.environews.tv/world-news/signable-petition-demands-zinke-reject-hjr-69-trumps-bear-cubwolf-pup-killing-bill/

(EnviroNews World News) — PETITION WATCH: The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) has launched an online petition via the Care2 platform demanding …

Signable Petition Demands Zinke to Reject HJR 69, Trump’s Bear Cub/Wolf Pup Killing Bill

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(EnviroNews World News) — PETITION WATCH: The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) has launched an online petition via the Care2 platform demanding Department of the Interior (Interior) Secretary Ryan Zinke “deny any request by Alaska for predator control in wildlife refuges.” This, after House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69) was signed into law on April 3, 2017, by President Donald Trump.

The highly controversial bill rescinded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule) which defaults wildlife management on Alaska’s 16 national refuges to the Alaska Board of Game (BOG). BOG’s wildlife management plan includes what is know as the Intensive Management Law (IM) — a code that allows extreme predator hunting methods such as killing bear sows with cubs, shooting predators from helicopters, luring bears to bait stations and shooting them pointblank, using steel-jaw traps for bears and killing wolves with pups in their dens.

The Center writes in its petition:

President Donald Trump recently signed a cruel bill into law repealing protections for wolves, bears and other wildlife on Alaska’s national wildlife refuges. The law – rushed through Congress under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) — repealed an Obama Administration rule that prohibited killing wolves and their pups in their dens, gunning down bears at bait stations and shooting them from airplanes. And it’s all in an attempt to artificially boost caribou numbers to placate sport hunters.

So far, the Center’s petition has gathered nearly 29,000 signatures and is growing fast online. The Center also points out that it recently filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over HJR 69, which it says is “no ordinary lawsuit” because it challenges the constitutionality of the CRA itself, alleging the 1996 law violates separation of powers laws inherent to the U.S. Government.

Interior Department, key House Republicans maneuver to open National Park Service lands to killing grizzly bears, wolves

https://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/08/interior-department-key-house-republicans-maneuver-open-national-park-service-lands-aerial-gunning-grizzly-bears.html

In April, President Trump signed a resolution, enabled by the Congressional Review Act and passed by Congress on a near party-line vote, that repealed a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rule restricting particularly cruel and unsporting methods of killing grizzly bears, wolves, and other predators on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. There are now multiple indications that the Trump administration and some allies in Congress are gearing up to unwind a nearly identical rule, approved nearly two years ago, that restricts these appalling predator-killing practices on 20 million acres of National Park Service (NPS) lands in Alaska. Our humane community nationwide must ready itself to stop this second assault on a class of federal lands (national preserves) set aside specifically to benefit wildlife.

Today, the Sacramento Bee’s Stuart Leavenworth broke the story that Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) had obtained a leaked memo that appears to show that senior political appointees at the Department of the Interior have barred top officials at NPS from speaking out against a widely circulated draft bill in Congress – the SHARE Act – that includes a provision to repeal the parks rule. The bill, which will be assigned to the House Committee on Natural Resources, contains a host of anti-wildlife provisions. Top officials at NPS reviewed the bill and objected to many provisions, and memorialized those objections in an internal memo. A senior Interior Department official sent back the memo to the NPS officials with cross-out markings on nearly all of the objections raised by the NPS. That helps explain why lawmakers on Capitol Hill have not heard a negative word from the NPS about this legislative package and its provisions that amount to an assault on the wildlife inhabiting Alaska’s national preserves.

Several weeks prior, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had signaled his desire to reopen the NPS predator control rule, with an eye toward changing and even gutting it. The rule passed with almost no dissent when NPS adopted it in October 2015.

In short, there is a double-barreled attack on the rule, and the administration seems to be locked and loaded on both strategies – one legislative and the other executive.

In March, the House voted 225 to 193 in favor of H.J. Resolution 69, authored by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, to repeal the USFWS rule on predator killing. Those 225 members voted to overturn a federal rule – years in the works, and crafted by professional wildlife managers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – to stop some of the most appalling practices ever imagined in the contemporary era of wildlife management. Denning of wolf pups, killing hibernating bears, baiting grizzly bears, and trapping grizzly and black bears with steel-jawed leghold traps and snares. It’s the stuff of wildlife snuff films.

Just weeks later, the Senate followed suit, passing S.J.R. 18 by a vote of 52 to 47. I was so proud of New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, himself an ardent sportsman, and Sens. Dick Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., for deconstructing the phony arguments advanced by the backers of the measure. If they had been arguing the case in front of a jury, they would have carried every fair-minded juror considering the evidence and honoring a standard of decency. They eviscerated the phony states’ rights arguments advanced by their colleagues. Their false subsistence hunting arguments. Their inaccurate representations of the views of Alaskans.

President Trump then signed H.R. Res. 69/S.J.R. 18 and repealed the USFWS rule.

The USFWS rule was at particular risk because it had been adopted in 2016, and the Congressional Review Act allows Congress and the president to nullify recently adopted rules with simple majority votes in both chambers and no committee review of the measures. The nearly identical NPS rule came out a year earlier and the CRA doesn’t apply to such long-standing rules. In short, the Department of the Interior could weaken the rule by opening a new rulemaking process, or Congress could repeal it (albeit without the expedited review and also perhaps without a simple majority vote in the Senate).

Today’s reporting by the Sacramento Bee, and the work of PEER, have sent up a flare, warning the world that there is maneuvering to launch an unacceptable assault on wildlife on National Park Service lands. Hunting grizzly bears over bait, killing wolves in their dens, and other similarly unsporting practices have no place anywhere on North American lands, and least of all on refuges and preserves. We’ll need you to raise your voice and write to your lawmakers, urging them to block any serious consideration of the SHARE Act in its current form. And tell Secretary Zinke that’s there’s no honor and no sportsmanship in allowing these practices on national preserves.

OREGON REMOVES TWO MORE WOLVES FROM HARL BUTTE PACK

Last week, Oregon removed two more Harl Butte wolves from the pack after weeks of persistent livestock depredation. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) have been carefully monitoring the pack via a single radio-collared wolf in the pack; the two selected wolves were non-breeding members, according to ODFW.

“We have discovered in the past few weeks working out in the field with this pack, that it’s actually larger than originally expected,” ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy told KBND. “We thought there were seven wolves plus three pups and we’ve since learned that there were ten wolves with three pups, so now there are eight wolves, and after this there will be six. So, we hope that has the impact that we’re looking for.”

Continued below

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While ODFW has worked to keep livestock safe from the Harl Butte pack via non-lethal measures like electric fences, range riders, ranchers spending more time with livestock and wolf hazing, because this pack is so large, livestock continues to be in danger. The decision to remove problem wolves from the pack follows Oregon’s wolf management plan.

“We have a wolf plan that guides wolf management in Oregon,” says Dennehy. “Unfortunately, sometimes, wolves will kill livestock, and the Harl Butte wolf pack, which is in Wallowa county, killed livestock and that’s why we are going to kill an additional two members from this pack.”

Oregon’s responsibility for wolves: Letter to the editor

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has gone astray and Gov. Kate Brown needs to pay attention. When the private property of livestock on our public lands takes precedence over Oregon’s wildlife, the agency has lost sight of its mission: “To protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for the use and enjoyment by present and future generations.”

Oregon’s young people expect the agency overseeing wolves on our public lands to be protecting them, not killing them. Some of the Harl Butte wolves are being killed on our public lands. This is a travesty. A travesty because the lives of a few of Oregon’s 1.3 million cows are more highly valued than the lives of our small native wolf population. Our public lands are not the sole property of ranchers. They belong to our wildlife and to all Oregonians.

The decision to kill these wolves is also a travesty because it is based on an outdated wolf plan lacking emphasis on non-lethal methods or conservation. The plan was to be reviewed and revised in 2015. It still has not been completed. In 2015, ODFW chose instead to decrease protection by delisting our wolves as a state endangered species.

Gov. Brown needs to hold the fish and wildlife department accountable for its tactics and insist it gets back on track with its mission. No new killings should be allowed under these outdated rules.

Joanie Beldin, North Portland

Kootenay conservation officers believe someone intentionally poisoning wolves

2 wolves dead of suspected poisoning; officers believe there may be more

By Matt Meuse, CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted: May 18, 2017 1:55 PM PT Last Updated: May 18, 2017 1:55 PM PT

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay region say someone appears to have left poison in a wolf travel corridor in order to kill wolves moving through the area. <https://i.cbc.ca/1.3961702.1485969914%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/lone-wolves.jpg>

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay region say someone appears to have left poison in a wolf travel corridor in order to kill wolves moving through the area. (Shutterstock / Dennis W Donohue)

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay are investigating after the discovery of two wolves they believe were intentionally poisoned.

Conservation officer Greg Kruger said poison was first discovered in early March in the Dutch Creek region, west of Canal Flats — an area known for its active wolf population.

“Where all these … poison containers have been found are all areas that we know are wolf travel corridors,” Kruger said. “So our investigation is looking at someone specifically targeting the wolf population.”

Discovered by dog owner

Kruger said a man contacted them in early March after his dog found and ate from something that looked like a white cupcake container in the area.

“Within a few minutes, that dog became ill [and] started having convulsions,” Kruger said.

The dog was treated by a vet and survived. Conservation officers investigated the area, and, over the course of a few weeks, found 17 different batches of poison along the same road within several kilometres of each other.

Kruger said a sample of the suspected poison tested positive for strychnine — a toxic chemical commonly used in rat poison.

Likely more dead wolves, poison traps

Then, in early April, two wolf carcasses were reported to conservation officers by members of the public.

Kruger said toxicology tests have not yet come back, but officers suspect poisoning, as there is no evidence of any other cause of death.

Kruger says it’s likely there are more dead wolves in less publicly accessible places that have yet to be discovered — and possibly more poison.

“[The containers we found] are all white, so we believe they were placed in the snow to blend in so they wouldn’t be detected,” Kruger said. “We’ve only found them since the snow has started to melt.”

Kruger asked anyone with information to contact the East Kootenay Conservation Officer Service.

He said under the Wildlife Act anyone found to be intentionally poisoning wolves could face a fine of up to $1 million and more than a year in jail.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kootenay-wolf-poisonings-1.4121946

EPA investigates Utahn’s poisoning – 4 years after device shot cyanide in his face

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Published January 18, 2008

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun an investigation into the poisoning four years ago of a Vernal man who touched what he thought was a survey stake, only to get a blast of sodium cyanide to his face and chest.

The cyanide device, called an M-44, is used by the federal government to kill predators. The poisoning has left Dennis Slaugh with severe health problems, his wife, Dorothy Slaugh, said Thursday.

And it has reignited a campaign to ban all predator poisoning on federal lands.

EPA investigator Michael Burgin visited the Slaugh home Monday for a two-hour meeting, which Slaugh said she taped with Burgin’s knowledge. The special investigator was looking into why federal agencies did not follow up on the Slaughs’ original reports, she said.

Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon pushed for the investigation at the request of Predator Defense, a national wildlife advocacy group based in Eugene, Ore.

“He has been a really good ally trying to get these weapons banned permanently so no one will have to suffer the way my husband has suffered,” Slaugh said of DeFazio.

Dennis Slaugh and his brother were riding all-terrain vehicles on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land in Cowboy Canyon near Bonanza in 2003 when Slaugh noticed what he thought was a survey stake. He reached to brush it off and it fell over. When he picked it up, it exploded, sending a cloud ofgranules into his nose, mouth and eyes.

The M-44 device was spring-loaded to shoot poison into a predator’s mouth. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Program is the only agency allowed to use the M-44 to poison coyotes and dogs to prevent livestock loss.

But when the Slaughs told the USDA and the BLM about their experience, the agencies denied responsibility and eventually informed them the statute of limitations on the family’s claims had run out.

“We were just asking for compensation. We’ve got medical bills. They just flat denied everything,” Dorothy Slaugh said.

On Monday, she said, Burgin told her that time on the claim would run out in May.

Cyanide clings to iron in the blood system and slowly depletes the heart and other muscles of oxygen.

Dennis Slaugh, 65, has extremely high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, vomits almost daily and can no longer work as a Caterpillar D8 driver for Uintah County because he is too weak to climb up into the machine’s rungs.

The couple, avid ATV riders and campers, have owned Mountain High Power Sports in Vernal for 35 years. “We’re fine, we’re OK. It’s just taken a lot out of him,” Dorothy Slaugh said.

Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, said his organization started the push to ban all predator poisoning on federal lands in 1994, when a woman was poisoned while trying to resuscitate her dog after the animal bit an M-44 a USDA employee had set on her private property at the request of a tenant farmer.

DeFazio has been an ally since then, Fahy said.

In late November, DeFazio prodded the EPA with a letter that Fahy said was “instrumental” in finally getting federal action on the Slaughs’ claim.

The congressman is sponsoring a bill in the House to ban all predator poisons.