Friends of the Clearwater Respond to Forest Service “Investigation” of Wolf Torture Incident….


PO Box 9241 Moscow, ID 83843
pH (208)882-9755


Rick Brazell

April 4, 2012
Supervisor Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests
104 Airport Road
Grangeville, Idaho 83530

Dear Supervisor Brazell,

As you are undoubtedly aware, there has been considerable public outcry over a recent wolf-trapping incident on the Nez Perce National Forest. Mr. Josh Bransford, the Fire Management Officer (FMO) on the Red River Ranger District of the Nez Perce National Forest, posted a picture on a website of a grey wolf that he had trapped. The wolf was apparently alive, with a pool of blood surrounding it, with Mr. Bransford posing in front of the wolf with a big smile.

Whether one finds this behavior deplorable–which we do, and most Americans most likely do as well–or acceptable may not be a concern of the Forest Service. Nevertheless, according to an article that appeared in the Missoulian on April 4, 2012 Missoula-based group gets threats over post on Idaho wolf trapper, Mr. Phil Sammon from the Forest Service Region One office stated that an investigation into this matter has concluded that no violations occurred. Based on what has been reported in the media, and
what we know about the incident, we have some questions about the agency investigation that we would like to be answered:

First, what prompted the Forest Service to conduct an investigation? When did the Forest Service conduct an investigation, and who conducted it?

Second, how did the Forest Service determine that Mr. Bransford set his traps on his own time, versus government time? Mr. Bransford has admitted to setting his traps on Friday March 16th. Did Mr. Bransford make a statement during your investigation as to when he set the trap(s)?

Third, Mr. Bransford posted the following statement on a web site called (which can no longer be accessed without having an account), “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.” Which Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) responded to the incident, and did that officer type up an incident report?

We understand that the incident occurred on private land. Why was a Forest Service LEO on the scene, and where did this occur? Can you please explain why the LEO gave Mr. Bransford a phone call on March 18th telling him that he had a wolf in his trap? How did the LEO know that the traps belonged to Mr. Bransford?

Fourth, it has been reported that the pool of blood that surrounded the trapped wolf was caused by people that had stopped and fired shots at the wolf. Did the LEO witness and/or make any attempt to stop the individual(s) from shooting at the trapped wolf? Idaho Code 36-1510: Interference with hunting, fishing, trapping or wildlife control clearly states that it is illegal for an individual to tamper with an animal trapped by another individual. If the officer at the scene did not witness the alleged shooting incident, was he or she able to confirm that an individual(s) had fired a gun at the trapped animal? Based on what the law enforcement officer witnessed or learned during questioning, was anyone at the scene cited, and charged for violating this law?

Fifth, Idaho Code 36-1508: Shooting from public highway specifically prohibits individuals from discharging firearms across a public road and/or from its shoulder. Did the law enforcement officer witness  any individual(s) shooting from the road and/or its shoulder? If the officer was not there to witness the alleged shooting, was he or she able to confirm that shots were fired from the roadway? Were any individuals cited and charged for violating this law?

We look forward to your response with regards to this very important matter.

Gary Macfarlane
Ecosystem Defense Director

cc: Tom Tidwell, Chief US Forest Service via US mail
Jane Cottrell, Deputy Regional Forester, Region One via US mail
Terry Nevius, District Ranger, Red River Ranger District via US mail

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Published in: on April 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm  Comments (36)  

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36 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I hope something good comes of this for the wolves and something not so good for the hunters/trappers. I know it’s a long shot in good old boy territory, but I hope . . .

    • Here-here. Good ole boys witha very small mental capacity….

  2. This is animal abuse and if the Forest Service doesn’t think it is responsible how about ASPCA or the National Humane Society. I really hope that jerk doesn’t get away with this.

    • “Jerks” like this are rampant in the Forest Service, as part of the “good ole boys” club who enjoy maiming and torturing animals more than sex. It’s what gets them off. BUT. Because he’s a good ole boy, he’ll be covered up, protected, excused and probably promoted.

  3. I am hoping the old adage is true: Give those idiots enough rope, and they’ll hang themselves. Let’s hope that the end results, seeing as these lunatics do not have the ability to be compassionate or intelligent, their barbaric actions will put the wolf back on the Endangered List before it’s too late.

    Most sincerely,
    Anne DiNucci

    • they are also know as NEANDERTHALS! we have to keep the pressure on the politicians to re-list them. Obama has just “shrugged” this off “no big deal, no harm to his campaign”! HUH? I have been refusing ANY support to ANY DEMS or politicos and telling them WHY and especially Obama!

      • I’m tired of politicians and
        bureaucrats talkin’ the talk
        and not listening to us.
        So, what I did, is take action by making
        my first video address to the world,
        to raise awareness on what’s happening here
        and what’s at stake, so they too, can sway
        to our cause and take action by organizing
        pro-wolf events such as rallies, marches, and
        boycotts of ALL the anti-wolf states.

        Share this video link with our like-minded
        public, near, far, and wide.

  4. This is perhaps the most disturbing picture I have ever seen. An innocent animal that should never have been taken off the Endangered list, not been tortured, nor have some incredibly insensitive person smile at its demise. This sickens me and the image has never left me since I first saw it. Wolves have a place in our ecosystem. If you are going to continue to slaughter them then keep your hunters out of Colorado to hunt our elk because you have taken the predator away. If our elk are shoot like this poor creature there will be more uproar. How can this continue on. It is SICK.

  5. We need to do all we can to let people know what is going on behind the scenes. There are several papers in Idaho where you can put free articles in about the wolves.
    This is an opportunity and an excuse for those that have no feelings to drum up hatred for this witch hunt on wolves.

    WE NEED TO LET THE PUBLIC KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT WOLVES……!!! We can all do this by calling fish & game, writing articles in free papers and calling our congressmen and representatives. They will not bat an eye until they are overwhelmed with the peoples voices.

    • YES!! not hide and be afraid of repercussions, that is what the KILLERS/HUNTERS want. Don’t give it to them! You know the saying “sunlight is the best disinfectant”!! WE want the world to see this! be SHOCKED and APPALLED as we are!!!! It is the outcry from the masses that will bring change!

    • And share my video message link to the world!!!
      I want the general public to OSTRACISE Idaho,
      Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Wisconsin, Alaska, and
      Minnesota, until they get our drift that until
      they stop harming our wolves, that we don’t want
      anything to do with these barbaric states!

      • Here’s my message video:

  6. Richie G.
    This stuff will not stop for a while ,in my opinion,it’s politics,we need more people calling for Salazar’s head on a silver platter. What I mean for whatever reason Obama picked him, it’s because Obama needs the money of the ranchers,more than he needs his base. This what I really believe, he is shifting on the pipeline,because people came out in the thousands to show that his base is not happy. I hate to say but we need a similiar type of force. It is all politics,Clinton was different in respect to the environment and guns and health care ,which guns and health care for his congress a loss in his second election. If you think I am wrong check out who was Clinton’s Secretary of Interior.

  7. Ken Cole said earlier on Ralph Maughan’s wildlife blog, that Josh Bransford said on the trapping blog that he had 75-150 snares set and other traps as well.
    I have a hard time believing that he could check all of these on his days off.
    He also reportedly said he was trying to trap two other packs. I think Josh has been cheating his employer (USFS) by trapping on Government time and lying about it.

    • That’s why FOC and CBD are pushing hard for a more expansive investigation, not a cursory one. Good points Larry.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  8. in the posting, you wonder what prompted the “investigation” of this incident? Do you think it was because someone posted and re-posted these gruesome photos, some with their own disgusting comments, and sent them world-wide until they went viral! notified-emailed these same to major media outlets, scholars, etc….. like I said sunlight has AMAZING power!!!! so I ask everyone that you re-post these gruesome images and comments from these BARBARIANS, send them to all of your media outlets,especially TV, but all are good! This is how to get the attention focused on this savagery! and get results from lawmakers!

    • Joann,

      “In the posting, you wonder what prompted the “investigation” of this incident?”

      Actually the letter was written by FOC. They wanted an answer to the question for the record, they weren’t questioning that the wolf torturing drew a world wide response or that dedicated activists re-posted the information tirelessly to spread the word. They asked the question to establish a record of the event.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,

  9. Bravo for FRIENDS OF THE CLEARWATER!! This group also was one of the 3 conservation groups that challenged the gray wolf de-listing in court, while huge, wealthy national orgs did nothing. Bravo, again!

  10. Reblogged this on Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife.

  11. this is just terrible how could people shoot at thic poor wolf who was already in a trap sick individuals out there shme on them!

  12. shame on these people i hate guns myself i call them cruel arms of men, that poor wolf!

  13. People like that are the mud of mankind.


  15. Shared the WiZaRd Of The Wolf Nation video on FB and Twitter – hope to wake up someone

  16. This is an outstanding inquiry to what has clearly been an underwhelming response to the incident from the Forest Service and the IDFG Department. Thank you for your efforts!

  17. Death by bullets? does no one find this cruel? why should they die? because they are not human? are humans superior to all non-human animals? so many questions fill my head but no one will answer them.

  18. The treatment of this wolf was “sad beyond words” !

  19. I refuse to give Idaho any tourist dollars nor purchase anything that comes from Idaho , unless it is from a non-profit that uses its money towards protecting wolves & wildlife . The wolf must kill to eat man must realize that share or build a better system to protect their livestock .

  20. The picture of Mr. Josh Bransford smiling for the camera while an injured defenseless wolf stood in a leg held trap suffering in pain and misery only to be later shot in a slow and torturous death is despicable and indefensible. It reminded me of the behavior when humans did this to other humans in arenas for sport.

    This wolf did not hunt, hurt or attack any human even though it could have. This intelligent, wild, sentient being, did not have a chance. This was not hunting or sport. There was no honor or bravery in massacring this magnificent being who was an important part in our ecosystems. This is what bullies and cowards do without any one looking. What kind of a real man shoots, tortures and kills a being that cannot defend themselves? This kind of person doesn’t want anyone to know or see what they are doing and they certainly like to pick on someone who can’t fight back. This is blind hatred, ignorance and scapegoating.

    When people know they are doing something wrong they’ll try and threaten anyone who is onto them and could show them for who they really are. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one else is watching you. Clearly there was none there.

    I would also like to know what Mr, Bransford, the Fire Management Officer (FMO) on the Red River Ranger District of the Nez Perce National Forest is doing by setting up personal traps for personal use on Federal Land which is for public use.

    Wolves are very important in the tradition, culture, and history of the Nez Perce Indians, (as well as many other peoples.) The Nez Perce Indians, the very same people the Nez Perce National Forest is named for, are very involved with wolf recovery and conservation.

    It would seem to me that the position of FMO in a National Forest would be a person who could uphold the integrity of the position and the respect of the people and living beings, wildlife, wolves,that he is supposed to be protecting. He is there to protect against fire and manage brush burning. He is not there to hunt, trap, main, torture and murder sentient beings. Mr. Bransford and others that would use a wounded, suffering being for target practice and slow murder would not be up to that job description. To them, the life of that wolf, and others, may be a very small thing of no importance. But, to that wolf I can assure you, that life was a very important big deal.

    Wolves are an integral part of keeping our wildlife healthy and balanced. There are all sorts of ways to coexist with our wildlife.
    We have to keep shedding light on these atrocities.

  21. Even if he was in his own time and the Forest Service had no authority over him, Josh Bransford was an employee and his actions reflect on them. He was not only cruel but proud of it. If he is let go without charges, it would cause an uproar. If they charge him with animal cruelty, then he gets the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. He faces losing his job in addition to a fine if found guilty of animal cruelty in the worst case scenario, but will probably still be able to trap wolves regardless. In any case, he should be held accountable for his actions.
    Trappers bludgeon animals to death with branches, choke them with snares, manually break their necks and there are countless videos uploaded onto sites such as Youtube, they laugh their heads off at the squeaks the animals make as they beat them to death. This is not just one seperate incident, with one bad egg at fault. Shameless acts of inhumanity happen every year upon many different species. It is a travesty of justice that trappers who admit to, even boast about, making animals suffer are not only pardoned from prosecution that should be rightfully pressed upon them but who’s actions are protected by law.

  22. It’s a lot like the Dan Richards episode in CA – he may have been acting “legally” (and that remains to be seen), but the definition of legal leaves a lot to be desired. We all know that just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it’s moral or ethical. Both men are not what we would want representing our people’s interests, whether it’s the California Fish & Game Department, or Josh Bransford for the Forest Service. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some poaching going on. I thought I read where this man “couldn’t keep his mind off checking the traps.” Sounds like a compulsion and a sickness if you ask me. An ethical hunter would make a kill quickly and cleanly, and check his traps as soon as he could – not wait and take pleasure from watching the suffering of another creature. Ewwww. I wouldn’t want this man on a fire watch if he can’t keep his mind on his real job.

  23. The actions of Josh Bransford towards a lleg hold trapped wolf is deplorable! Josh Bransford should not be an employee of the US government. While his actions may have been “legal” they were unethical and inhumane. He has no right to have a job paid by US tax payers. Respectfully, Cynthia Johnson

  24. Thank your FOC for daylighting this issue. Hopefully less people will come to Idaho now and trammel our values we hold so dear.

  25. I think Tony Mcdermott should resign and go back to selling trailer parks. This is an insult that these officials are covering up for these people. You would think due to the toxic environment that prevails in Idaho that the Commission would adopt some ethical guidelines to protect wolves from these “sportsmen”. To just say that they do not condone gut shooting and torture of these wolves is not enough…..Idaho is incapable of responsible wolf management. They have proved this time and time again. We demand that wolves are treated with respect

    • The entire Idaho Fish & Game board should resign
      or be forced out of the job for and PROSECUTED
      for covering up the most
      disgraceful crime aganst Nature,
      as well as official misconduct,
      accountability to poaching, perjury, and treason!!!
      I recommend Idaho’s statehood status to be suspended
      or revoked until our wolves are back
      on the protections status!!!

  26. This is clearly animal abuse and charges should be filed. I seen the picture of this and some others. Can’t believe people can act like this. Such behaver. I feel like they are living in 1900’s again. No respect for the animal.. and you call this sportsmanship i call it serial killers.. They blame the wolves for the deer and elk population.. Lets count how many were killed during hunting, now the ones killed by cars, and poucher.. Lets not forget if we have a bad winter and they can’t find food starvation… now that the cwd is under control lets kill the wolves for what you don’t eat them.. Shame on Idaho such barbaric men we have there Trapping is so inhumane and cruel..Did God give the dnr the rite to determine how many wolves live and die who gave them that rite.. Now talk about the cattle they claim that the wolves take down do you know for sure that they are coogars, mountain lions, coyotes, and so on do it too.. but i guess it is much eaiser to blame the wolves… humans are the preditors now animals expecially the wolves… Idaho you are very inhumane and you promote animal cruelty so sad you have to be such an animal at this.. The wolves do have a purpose here.. Totally against Hunting and TRAPPING WOLVES

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