Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Ends Investigation into Wolf Death
Earlier this week, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks began investigating the death of a wolf near the Montana-Idaho border. As of Friday afternoon, the investigation ended with no charges filed.
In August, Missoula resident Toby Bridges posted on an anti-wolf Facebook page entitled "LOBO Watch" claiming he killed a wolf and injured another with his vehicle on Interstate 90. After having the Mineral County Attorney's office review the investigation, FWP will not be filing any charges in this case.
"In Montana, harassing or intentionally killing wildlife with a motor vehicle is illegal," FWP Warden Captain Joe Jaquith said. "We take reports of such incidents very seriously."
FWP was first notified of the post on Tuesday, September 17, and game wardens initiated an investigation the next day.
Wardens investigated the area described in Bridges' post and found a wolf carcass off the shoulder of the road that seemed to match the photo he posted online. However, the carcass was far more decomposed than typical for a wolf killed at the time Bridges reported to have struck the wolf. Wardens found no physical evidence of a collision on or near the interstate.
As the investigation continued, wardens found no signs of a second wolf, or any other evidence suggesting that another wolf was injured, or killed.
Wardens searched for potential witnesses and worked with the Montana Department of Transportation as part of the investigation, but no witnesses came forward. The Montana Highway Patrol crime scene investigator also helped with the investigation.
"In typical cases involving harassment or killing of wildlife with a vehicle, there has always been either a witness to the event, and/or fresh physical evidence that could be directly tied to the violation," Jaquith said. "In this particular case, the only witness appears to be Mr. Bridges. The vehicle shows no evidence of having been in an accidents and the lack of any other physical evidence supporting the claim precludes the filing of criminal charges."