Mike Werner, of rural Brittan, SD, got a lot more than he bargained for when he pulled the trigger on what he thought was the biggest coyote he had ever seen. It turned out to be a gray wolf, which is a federally protected species. Werner is now being investigated by US Fish & Wildlife Service authorities.

Mike Werner, a South Dakota predator hunter, was hunting for coyotes in Marshall County. This area is located in the extreme northeastern portion of the state.

As Werner lay in the snow he spotted movement behind him. Through his scope he thought it was the biggest coyote he had ever seen. He steadied his aim and pulled the trigger.

When he got to the animal he noted that it was indeed bigger than any coyote he’s seen before…quite a bit bigger. Werner became concerned that he had shot a wolf. Knowing that wolves were covered under the Endangered Species Act, Werner was worried and immediately called a local game warden.

The game warden also thought it might be a gray wolf and thus Mr. Warden’s saga began. Investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were called in to review the case. South Dakota game officials said the animal’s DNA was tested and confirmed that the animal was a 90-pound gray wolf. State Conservation Officer Supervisor Mike Klosowski elaborated on the odds of gray wolf sightings in South Dakota.

“To the east we have Minnesota. Northern Minnesota has a healthy population of gray wolves. Then when you go out west near Yellowstone National Park, you have a very healthy population of wolves out there, too. There was a probability of it being a wolf.”

Klosowski also noted, that due to the circumstances, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was not likely to prosecute as long as everything connected to Werner’s story pans out to be true. Even if everything goes right for Mr. Werner, this has been an experience he doesn’t want to repeat.

Personally, I believe protected wolf populations are outgrowing their current ranges. The wolves being killed by coyote hunters in other states are probably young male wolves seeking out new territory. This isn’t the first time a coyote hunter, hundreds of miles from habitat where you would expect to find wolves, had inadvertently killed a wolf.

Back in 2013, a Trego County Kansas hunter had the same scenario as Werner and killed an 80 pound wolf that stood on the prairie, west of Hays. DNA testing showed that the animal was a wolf and part of the Great Lakes clan of northern Minnesota. The last documented wolf killed in Kansas was back in 1905. Why would anyone expect to see a wolf in central Kansas?

If you look at the map, for a wolf to get from Northern Minnesota to central Kansas, it almost had to travel through Nebraska. Could this happen in the Cornhusker State? Keep reading…

In 2003, and a coyote hunter shot a gray wolf about 50 miles north of Grand Island. This animal weighed 100 pounds. The USFWS determined through DNA testing that the wolf originated from a population of wolves found in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, probably the same clan that the South Dakota hunter’s wolf came from. Prior to this incident, that last known wolf killed in Nebraska was in 1913.

Yep, I think wolves are moving back out on the plains. They were here originally, so why not? I would not be surprised to hear that someone spotted a wolf along the Big Blue River someday. Coyote/predator hunters…be certain of what you are shooting at before you pull the trigger. It might save you a lot of hassles.

Remington News

Remember what I wrote about Remington back in October? I predicted that they were headed toward bankruptcy. Well, the news is out in the open and I was right. Remington Outdoor Company Inc. has reached out to a number of banks and credit investment funds looking for help with financing that will allow them to file for bankruptcy. According to the Reuters News Service, Remington is working on a strategy for restructuring a $950 million debt. Things are not looking good for the Big Green.


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