PORTLAND, Ore. — A trapper who shot a gray wolf after finding it caught in one of his traps has been sentenced to two years on probation and 100 hours of community service.
Union County Judge Thomas Powers also suspended David Sanders’ hunting and trapping license for three years and fined him $7,500. Sanders, 58, pleaded guilty Feb. 26 to one count of unlawful taking of wildlife. He received his penalty that day, court records show.
The shooting occurred in December at a trapping site west of Elgin in the Umatilla National Forest.
Oregon State Police said Sgt. Jeff Proulx said in a news release that a trooper aware of Sanders’ traps discovered a dead wolf a short distance from them.
When investigators confronted Sanders, he admitted shooting the animal but insisted he had only been trying to trap bobcats, Proulx said. Investigators collected a photograph of the wolf in the trap before it was killed.
Several wolves have been inadvertently captured by licensed trappers since the animals began returning to Oregon around the turn of the century. In previous cases, the trapper contacted the state and wildlife biologists responded to help free the wolves.
Union County District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel said the state viewed the killing as an illegal-trapping case rather than wolf poaching.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said the wolf was a juvenile female born last spring. Biologists believe it was the offspring of a new pair of wolves that bred this year in the Mt. Emily Wildlife Management Unit.