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Men Plead To Shooting Wolves [Albuquerque Journal, N.M.]

(Albuquerque Journal (NM) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 07–LAS CRUCES — Two men in separate cases in federal court last week each pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a Mexican gray wolf, a misdemeanor.

Jack Bruton, 60, of Magdalena in Socorro County, and Ron Rains, 57, of Reserve in Catron County, said they initially thought they were shooting a coyote, for which no permit is needed.

Bruton was cited for shooting a Mexican gray wolf, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act, on April 15, 2010. Rains was cited for shooting a lobo on Dec. 2, 2010.

According to monthly reports from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a female wolf that roamed alone, designated F1154, was discovered dead under suspicious circumstances in April 2010. The wolf Rains shot appears to have been a 13-year-old female, designated F521, that was a member of the Fox Mountain Pack in New Mexico.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, after Bruton shot and killed a wolf he thought was a coyote, he took the wolf to his home where he removed a collar, fitted with a GPS device.

After burying the wolf at a remote site, Bruton destroyed the collar used to track the wolf and buried it in a different location, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Federal law enforcement officials interviewed Bruton on April 28 after recovering the wolf’s remains, and Bruton cooperated by helping locate the destroyed collar.

A U.S. magistrate judge fined Bruton $250 and ordered him to pay $4,095 in restitution, including $2,095 to cover the cost of the collar and GPS device.

In the other case, Rains was driving through the Apache National Forest near his home in Reserve when he shot and killed a wolf he believed was a coyote. After realizing he had shot a wolf, Rains reported the matter to local law enforcement.

Rains had been told two days before the shooting that a wolf was in the area where it was shot, according to court records.

The judge fined Rains $250 and ordered him to pay $1,000 in restitution.

Wildlife officials last month discovered a female wolf from the Arizona-based Rim Pack dead in a case that is under investigation.