• Outdoors Outdoors

Advocates call for boycott of state for enabling animal cruelty after man hits wolf with vehicle, parades it around town: 'This was an abusive action'

"None of us condone it. It never should … have been done."

"None of us condone it. It never should ... have been done."

Photo Credit: iStock

Wyoming has a complicated history with wolves — and after the actions of one resident went viral, things have gotten considerably more intense.

Videos surfaced of a man who brought an injured wolf to a bar with its mouth taped shut, showing it off and posing for photos before killing it. According to witnesses, the man had severely injured the wolf by hitting it repeatedly with his snowmobile until it could barely stay conscious.

The most controversial part, which has stupefied viewers around the world, is that according to Wyoming's lenient wolf management laws, all of this was legal. Warning: The following video displays footage of the wounded wolf.

Wolves are on the Endangered Species List and therefore protected under the Endangered Species Act in most states — but not in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Of those states, Wyoming has the most lenient wolf management laws: It's illegal to kill wolves inside national parks, but it's permitted in the remaining 85% of the state.

But while hunting and killing a wolf is legal, this man's methods have shocked and enraged people around the country after what he did began to make national headlines. Some are even urging tourists to change their travel plans and boycott Wyoming until the law is changed. 

"We have to change the legislation, rewrite the laws so we can offer more protection, so they can't be interpreted in ways that will allow for such atrocities," one such advocate told the Associated Press.

"The truth is it's not that difficult an issue," said a retired Wyoming veterinarian at a state hearing. "All you need to do is to write that purposeful harassing, torturing, and killing predators by motorized vehicles is illegal in this state." 

Wolves are a keystone species, and their presence as top predators is "essential to healthy, wild nature," according to the Center for Biological Diversity. But the animosity toward them is strong in states like Wyoming, where ranchers worry that wolves threaten their cattle. (In reality, the number of cattle killed by wolves reportedly equals 0.002% of herds statewide, though this may indeed be higher in certain areas.)

But even when they support the laws, most ranchers don't condone animal cruelty and instead recognize that wolves can't help being wolves. 

"This was an abusive action," one rancher told the AP. "None of us condone it. It never should … have been done."

Despite the outrage, the only consequence for the man was a $250 ticket for illegal possession of wildlife.

"It's not a scientific approach to wildlife management," said one former chairman of the Fish and Wildlife Commission of the brutal method of killing the wolf. "It's management based on vengeance."

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