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KRTV News

Apr 5, 2012 1:33 AM by Breanna Roy (Missoula)

Idaho wolf trapping photo sparks controversy

Now that wolf trapping is legal in Idaho, we likely would not have heard of one particular incident at all, had it not been for a photo that's all over the internet now receiving global scrutiny.

It shows a trapper in the foreground , and a trapped gray wolf, still alive, in the background and blood on the snow in between. The photo contains plenty of content for controversy.

It didn't sit well with the Center for Biological Diversity, which says that the photo first appeared on the TrapperMan.com website.

The conservation organization sent letters to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Idaho Attorney General, asking for a better investigation into the trapping incident. The Center for Biological Diversity also sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service chief, saying its employee, the trapper, should be fired.

"We certainly want to shine a spotlight on what precisely happened in that mid-March day when that wolf had that terrible end," Center for Biological Diversity conservation advocate Michael Robinson said. "We want answers. We want accountability for violations of the law."

Idaho Department of Fish and Game communications chief Mike Keckler said conservation officers conducted an investigation and determined the trapper followed the law.

"He had the necessary license, the tags," Keckler said. "He set his traps on private land. And it's my understanding he had the permission of the private landowner to do that. He was checking his traps daily. By law, he was required to do that only every 72 hours."

Keckler said the trapper even took the mandatory wolf trapping class.

"As part of the wolf trapping class, we talk about the ethics of trapping and how one should conduct themselves," Keckler said. "We would've preferred that he had dispatched that animal before he decided to photograph himself with it."

The Center for Biological Diversity said under Idaho state law, it's a misdemeanor to treat animals cruelly - even animals being killed for population control.

"This is clearly inhumane treatment of this wolf," Robinson said. "It seems, on its face, that it does violate the law, there should be a real investigation with a written record of it."

"We conducted a thorough investigation," Keckler said, "and unless somebody brings more information forward, this investigation is over."

The Center for Biological Diversity's letters went out Tuesday. The organization did not yet receive a response from Idaho Fish and Game, the Forest Service chief or the Idaho Attorney General.

Wolf Trap Photo

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