Wolf Torture and Execution Continues in the Northern Rockies
by James William Gibson – March 28, 2012
Montana Anti-Trapping Group Gets Death Threat for Releasing Photos
On March 16, a Friday, a US Forest Service employee from Grangeville, Idaho, laid out his wolf traps. The following Monday, using the name “Pinching,” he posted his story and pictures on www.Trapperman.com . “I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS [Forest Service] cop that I know. You got one up here as there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already,” wrote Pinching. The big, black male wolf stood in the trap, some 300-350 yards from the road, wounded—the shots left him surrounded by blood-stained snow. Pinching concluded his first post, “Male that went right at 100 pounds. No rub spots on the hide, and he will make me a good wall hanger.”
(The here depicted Josh Bransford is a federal employee and public servant out of the Red River Ranger District on the Nez Perce National Forest in north-central Idaho. As a taxpayer, you have a right to call the Front Desk and complain about his behavior. Call for his resignation and/or ask that he be suspended without pay for a period of time for his actions 208-842-2245.)
All photographs were taken from Trapperman.com website are being reproduced here under Fair Use“Pinching” with the wolf he trapped that he wrote would make him “a good wall hanger.”
The Trapperman website went wild with comments. “That’s a dandy!! Keep at it,” wrote Watarrat. Otterman asked, “All the gray on that muzzle make a guy wonder how old he is or if it is just part of his black coloring.” Pinching’s picture of the wolf’s paw caught in the trap got special attention. “Is that the MB750 stamped ‘wolf’ on the pan?” asked one man. “Looks to be a perfect pad catch. Congratulations! Pinching confirmed the trap model and commented, “Oh an [sic] by the way, a wolf is a heck of a lot of work to put on a stretcher! Man those things hold on to their hide like no other!”
By late March some 117 Idaho wolves had been killed in traps and snares, and another 251 shot. Montana saw 166 killed, for a total of 534 wolves out of an estimated 1150 in the two states. Although Montana’s season ended in February, Idaho is not quite done. Both states have announced plans for increased hunting in the 2012-2013, and discussions are underway among hunting groups and state officials to allow private donations to establish wolf bounties.
Wolf’s paw in trap.
As recently as the spring of 2011, gray wolves in the Northern Rockies received protection from he Endangered Species Act. But in April, 2011 Congress passed a rider on a federal appropriations bill removing them. Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester, facing a 2012 challenge from Republican Congressman Danny Rehberg, wanted to show Democrats hated wolves just as much as Republicans. Conservation groups filed suit in Montana’s federal district court, claiming the delisting represented an unconstitutional infringement by Congress on the judicial branch while it deliberated an ongoing lawsuit over federal wolf protection.
Losing in district court, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Cascadia Wildlands appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. On March 14, the appeals court rejected their arguments, upholding the Congressional wolf delisting as a lawful amendment. This decision might well mark the endpoint for the conservation movement’s decades-long fundamental strategy of litigating in federal courts to promote wolf recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
A hunter and his dead prey.
Thus wolves, demonized by the far-right in the Rockies as disease-ridden monsters and icons of the federal government (see my Summer 2011 Journal story, “Cry Wolf”), now face a brutal campaign to radically reduce their numbers so far that extermination can not be ruled out. Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter declared in a March 25 news conference that his state faced a “disaster emergency” from wolves. “We don’t want them here.”
Skirmishing on the web escalates. Footloose Montana, an anti-trapping group, posted the trapped wolf’s pictures on its website, drawing over a 1,000 comments within days. Word spread. Nabeki, founder of Howling for Justice, opined that “This wolf will be the face of the cruelty and ugliness that is the Idaho hunt…Our forests are hiding acts of unspeakable horrors that are being perpetuated on innocent animals.” Protesters called Idaho and Montana tourist bureaus, demanding the hunts end. By Monday, March 26, Trapperman learned that its photos now circulated offsite. The group’s administrator demanded that Footloose Montana remove the photographs.
Footloose staff and board members also received an anonymous death threat in their email: “I would like to donate [sic] a gun to your childs [sic] head to make sure you can watch it die slowly so I can have my picture taken with it’s [sic] bleeding dying screaming for mercy body. YOU WILL BE THE TARGET NEXT BITCHES!”
FBI agents and Missoula, Montana police received copies of the threat.
Wolf advocates hope that these pictures will go viral, shaming a nation into facing the torture people inflict on animals and the moral and political failures that promote and legitimize it.
*** FURTHER ACTION / UPDATE – 03/04/2012 ***
ID Forest Service employee and trapper, Josh Bransford, had nothing better to do than to pose in front of a wolf caught in one of his leghold trap – the wolf had already been shot a couple of times while he was helplessly caught in Bransford’s trap! This brutal and callous behavior, particularly when displayed by an agency employee, whose salary we pay, is unacceptable. For more information, scroll down to read John Adams’ article in the Great Falls Tribune. Thank you for your help! Your friends at Footloose Montana
Please voice your opinion about this tragedy and call or send an e-mail today!
Here is some contact information. Please be respectful:
Nez Perce National Forest: Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell (208) 983-7000 / email@example.com
Deputy Forest Supervisor Ralph Rau (208) 983-7017 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Fire Management: Bob Lippincott (208) 983-4066 / email@example.com
Public Affairs: Laura Smith (208) 983-5143 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Idaho Fish and Game: Director Virgil Moore: email@example.com
Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore: (208) 334-3771.
Please sign this petition, which will be sent to:
USDA Office of Ethics Forestry Ethics Branch(Lorraine (Rainee) Luciano, Branch Chief Agency: U.S. Forest Service) and UDSA Forest Service Chief(Tom Tidwell)
Photos of live, trapped wolf prompt threats to Missoula-based group
A photo downloaded from an online trapping forum shows an Idaho trapper posing in front of a wolf that was caught in a foot-hold trap and then allegedly shot at by bystanders. Missoula-based anti-trapping group members say they received death threats after posting the photo on their Facebook page. PHOTO COURTESY EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL.
HELENA — A Missoula-based anti-trapping organization said it received a threatening email this month after the group posted graphic photos on the Internet of a live Idaho wolf caught in a foot-hold trap.
Anja Heister, executive director of Footloose Montana, on March 22 posted a series of photos gleaned from an online trapping forum called Trapperman.com on her personal and Footloose Montana Facebook sites.
Heister said she opened Footloose Montana’s email inbox on Monday and found what she believed to be a death threat directed at family members of the organization:
“I would like to donate (sic) a gun to your childs (sic) head to make sure you can watch it die slowly so I can have my picture taken with it’s (sic) bleeding dying screaming for mercy body. YOU WILL BE THE TARGET NEXT BITCHES!” the message read.
Heister said the email was in response to the group posting photos of a northern Idaho trapper’s March 18 wolf kill, which was detailed on the online trapping forum.
The photos show trapper Josh Bransford, a fire management officer for the Nez Perce National Forest, kneeling and smiling for the camera as a wolf he caught in a foot-hold trap stands behind him in a ring of blood-soaked snow. Another photo shows a close-up of the wolf’s paw caught in the trap. A third photo shows the trapper posing with his catch.
Heister said Footloose Montana, which is actively campaigning to ban trapping in Montana, has received plenty of hostile emails and phone calls since 2007 but never anything that rose to this level.
“It has a cumulative effect on your psyche,” Heister said. “I’m not easily scared, but when I read this I got really concerned.”
Heister said she reported the threatening email to local and federal law enforcement officials. Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welch confirmed the department received the report of the malicious email and that it was assigned to an investigator, but he declined to comment further.
In an online blog on Earth Island Journal’s website, writer James William Gibson recounted what Bransford — who goes by the handle “Pinching” — wrote about the photos. Bransford’s post has since been removed.
“I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS (Forest Service) cop that I know. You got one up here,” the post said, and then continued, “there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already,” the post read, according to Gibson.
According to Bransford the wolf was a 100-pound male with “no rub spots” making an “good wall hanger.”
Bransford did not return calls or emails seeking comment Thursday.
As of late Thursday the photos posted on Footloose Montana’s Facebook page had received nearly 900 comments. Online commenters on both the Earth Island Journal and the Footloose Montana Facebook page expressed outrage over the photos. Many viewers were angry Bransford posed for a portrait with the wounded wolf before killing it.
Dave Linkhart, spokesman for the National Trappers Association, said there’s nothing wrong with a trapper posing with his catch before killing the animal.
“You pose with a successful catch just like you do with a successful hunt,” Linkhart said. “People make the problem of attributing human feelings and emotions to these animals.”
Linkhart claimed trapped animals don’t suffer, so taking the time to shoot a photograph does not cross ethical boundaries.
“If you look at the trap — across the pad of the foot like that — if you were to release the animal it would walk away like nothing happened,” Linkhart said.
Marc Bekoff is a former professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder and fellow of the Animal Behavior Society who has studied the social behavior of wolves and coyotes, among other animals.
“That wolf was suffering immeasurably. Not only physically by having his foot locked in a trap, but also being shot at,” said Bekoff, the author of several books on animal psychology and emotion. “This was not hunting. This was having an animal having its foot smashed in trap and then shooting at it with bullets. This wolf was tortured.”
Linkhart said if the wolf was shot at, that isn’t the trapper’s fault.
“Somebody else came up there and shot that animal first. That is illegal. What the trapper has done here is not,” Linkhart said. “The problem was not the trap. It was the illegal activity of the hunters who shot at that wolf.”
Reach Tribune Capital Bureau Chief John S. Adams at 442-9493, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TribLowdown.