An Eagle, Idaho, man was cited by the Idaho Fish and Game department this week for poaching after he shot a wolf outside an approved hunting zone.
The man, who wasn’t identified by the department, told fish and game officials he thought he was in the Sawtooth zone, where wolf hunting is under way, according to a news release. The wolf, a female pup, was shot about 6 p.m. Sunday in the McCall-Wieser zone, where hunting hasn’t started. Witnesses say the man shot the wolf while standing in the road at the back of his pickup truck, the release said.
The man reported the kill Tuesday on the wolf-harvest reporting line. He told officials he didn’t realize he had shot the wolf outside the approved zone until he got back to camp and looked at a map Sunday night.
Because Idaho’s wolf hunt has specific limits on the number of wolves that can be taken in each hunting zone, one will be deducted from the limit for the McCall-Weiser zone to account for the poached wolf.
The man was cited for shooting a wolf in a closed season and shooting from a public road. No charges have been filed in connection with the case. Fish and Game officers seized the wolf hide and skull, a rifle, camera and tag.
Shooting a firearm from a public road, a standard misdemeanor, carries possible fines of $25 to $1,000, and up to six months in jail.
Shooting a wolf in a closed season also is a misdemeanor, but because it involves a big game animal, it carries a minimum fine of $200 and maximum of $1,000, a $400 civil penalty, and a loss of hunting, fishing and/or trapping privileges for one to three years, along with up to six months in jail.
Jon Heggen, chief of law enforcement for Idaho Fish and Game, says, “We want to treat the wolf hunt like we do any other big game hunting season, no different than we would bighorn sheep or an elk or a deer case.” And what they’ve done - issued two poaching citations, with serious penalties - is exactly that, he said.
Way back, Heggen used to work as a game warden out of Yellow Pine, covering the very area where the wolf pup poaching occurred. “I have issued citations 15 years ago in that same area for people hunting elk doing the same thing - claiming they were in the open area and being on the closed side,” Heggen said.
He noted the offense of shooting from a public road is simply a crime, it’s not even necessarily a poaching offense.
“It’s not even necessary to be hunting - just shooting a firearm from a public road would be a violation,” Heggen said. “That’s not hunting. You know, a hunter’s going to know where they are, they’re going to follow the rules and they’re not going to do things like shoot from the road and shoot in areas that are closed. That’s not hunting. In layman’s terms, it could be being lazy, not wanting to follow the rules. It’s wrong, is what it is.”
The only reason the poacher hasn’t yet been named is because the charges haven’t yet been turned over to the prosecutor and filed in court, at which point they become public record.
“It’ll happen by the end of the week,” Heggen said. “It’s just a matter of tidying up some loose ends and getting a report written.”