Wolf Trapping Lawsuit

In this Nov. 7, 2017, file photo, provided by the National Park Service, shows a wolf in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.

A man pleaded guilty and was sentenced Thursday to pay $1,500 for poisoning a wolf with strychnine on a ranch near Ennis, Montana.

Jeffrey Scott Wood, 49, of Reed Point, Montana, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor unlawful use of a registered pesticide. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto ordered him to pay a $500 fine and $1,000 in restitution to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Wood laced a cow carcass or meat next to a cow carcass with strychnine oats to poison a wolf on the Sun Ranch near Ennis — which is about 50 miles north of the border with Idaho — in October 2019, according to a Thursday news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

FWP investigated the cause of the wolf’s death and determined that it had ingested strychnine oats rolled in meat and placed next to a cow carcass on the ranch.

A ranch employee’s dog is also suspected to have died from eating the poison-laced meat.

“Misusing strychnine to lace a cow carcass to kill predators is a violation of federal law that results in the indiscriminate killing of all kinds of animals, large and small, wild and domestic, common and endangered,” said acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson. “Wood not only killed a wolf, but he also likely killed a pet dog and probably countless other smaller birds and mammals.”

Wood initially denied that he had any involvement in the death of the wolf. He then told law enforcement that he had put the poison around the cow carcass because he saw a grizzly sow and two cubs in the area. He later admitted that he had put the poison out to kill wolves.

Wood is also accused of calling a witness in the case and telling them to “play stupid” if they were questioned about the dead wolf.

The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in addition to FWP law enforcement. U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon prosecuted the case.

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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