FRIENDS OF THE CLEARWATER
PO Box 9241 Moscow, ID 83843
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 trapperman.com. (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.
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