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
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
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."