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In the Press: 2 Plead Guilty in Wolf Killings

Silver City Sun-News October 8, 2011 (posted 10/9/11)

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SILVER CITY - Two men pleaded guilty in Las Cruces federal court on Sept. 28 to federal misdemeanor charges arising out of separate incidents during which each man killed a Mexican gray wolf after mistaking it for a coyote. …

In the first incident, Jack Bruton, 60, of Magdalena, in Socorro County, was cited for killing a Mexican gray wolf on April 15, 2010. Court records show that Bruton shot and killed a wolf after misidentifying it as a coyote. After realizing that he had killed a Mexican gray wolf, Bruton took the wolf to his residence where he removed its GPS collar and buried the wolf in a remote location. He also destroyed the GPS collar and buried it in a different remote location. On April 28, 2010, law enforcement officials interviewed Bruton after recovering the buried wolf's remains. Bruton cooperated and assisted the officers in locating the destroyed GPS collar. After Bruton entered his guilty plea, a United States Magistrate Judge imposed a $250 fine on Bruton, and ordered him to pay $4,095 in restitution, including $2,095 to cover the value of the destroyed GPS collar.

In the other incident, Ron Rains, 57, of Reserve, in Catron County, was cited for killing a Mexican gray wolf on December 2, 2010.

According to the citation, while driving through the Apache National Forest near his residence, Rains shot and killed the wolf after misidentifying it as a coyote. After realizing that the dead animal was a wolf, Rains reported the incident to law enforcement. Court records reflect that, two days earlier, Rains had been notified that a wolf was in the vicinity of the area in which he killed the wolf. The Magistrate Judge imposed a fine of $250 on Rains, and ordered him to pay $1,000 in restitution.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that the cases were investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, and were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Wishard.
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Mexican gray wolves are critically endangered and extremely valuable to the restoration of southwest wildlands. With only around 50 in the wild, every loss is catastrophic. Shootings must be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted, and penalties should be severe enough to effectively deter others from killing these magnificent animals.

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