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Wolf Poacher Sentenced in Federal Court

July 30, 2004

A Lewiston, Idaho, man pleaded guilty in Federal Court on July 29, 2004, to the killing of a gray wolf. Robin Shafer, after pleading guilty, was sentenced and ordered to serve one year of probation with nationwide revocation of hunting privileges, and to pay $21, 252 in civil restitution to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Shafer admitted in court that he had shot and killed the wolf during a 2003 elk hunt near Elk River, Idaho, and that he had taken the tail of the wolf to his Lewiston residence. The wolf, an adult female, was not radio-collared.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game began investigating the case in late 2003 after the Department received a tip from a concerned citizen. State and federal investigators conducted an extensive search and found the carcass of what appeared to be a wolf under about four feet of snow near the campsite Shafer had used during the 2003 elk season. The investigators observed that the tail appeared to have been removed from the carcass.

The remains of the wolf were sent to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Forensics Lab in Ashland, Oregon, and it was confirmed that the carcass was that of a gray wolf that had been shot. Investigators conducted numerous interviews and found what appeared to be a wolf tail in Shafer's residence while conducting an interview there. The investigation indicated that the wolf had not been attacking or threatening Shafer when he shot it, and that he had transported the wolf carcass to his camp to show it to others.

Shafer was charged in Federal Court with violating the Endangered Species Act, including the killing, possession, and transport of a gray wolf, a threatened species.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams sentenced Shafer in Moscow. Williams said at the sentencing, "Regardless of whether you agree with the law or not, you can not engage in vigilantism." Federal investigators requested that the Court order Shafer to pay the restitution to an Idaho Fish and Game account where it will be used to help offset costs of the state's gray wolf management program.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently arranging payment of a monetary reward to the concerned citizen whose call initiated the investigation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Law Enforcement Field Supervisor, Craig Tabor, noted, "We hope that this penalty will serve as a deterrent to others who would take the law into their own hands, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to provide funds that will support Idaho's increasing role in wolf management."



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