Montana Governor Greg Gianforte was warned by wildlife officials after violating state hunting regulations when he killed a radio-collared wolf near Yellowstone National Park without taking the required trapping course.
The three-hour online course shows hunters how to capture animals ethically and legally.
A spokesman for the Republican governor said Gianforte “immediately rectified” the mistake by enrolling in the course this week. He was allowed to keep the skull of the animal and hide.
It is legal to kill wolves in the state with a valid license, which Gianforte had, said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Greg Lemon.
THE GOVERNOR OF MONTANA IS SAID THAT HE ‘DEGRADED’ WITH A ‘NEANDERTHAL’ COMMENT ON THE GOVERNORS OF THE RED STATE
Gianforte caught and shot the wolf on a ranch owned by Robert E. Smith, director of conservative Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns local news stations across the country, The Mountain West News Bureau reported. Smith is also a major donor to Gianforte.
“In situations like this, we use it as an educational opportunity and issue a written warning,” Lemon said. “Everything related to the harvest was done well.”
Wildlife officials determined he had violated the rule when he brought the wolf carcass to a state ranger in Helena to report the death as required by regulations, Lemon said.
The male wolf was between six and seven years old and had been born in Yellowstone National Park. He was equipped with a radio collar to track his movements in 2018, said park spokesman Morgan Warthin. The animal was a member of the park’s Wapiti Lake and 8 Mile herds, then left alone to look for a mate.
It was the first wolf the governor killed, said Gianforte spokeswoman Brooke Stroyke.
Hunters have the option of releasing radio-collared animals so that they can continue to be used for research. The certification course includes instruction on the importance of radio-collared wolves for population monitoring and managing wolf pack attacks on livestock.
“A wolf that has been wearing a radio collar is going to be a terrible trophy, because those collars litter the fur around its neck,” said Carter Niemeyer, a former wolf recovery coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “And then, symbolically, you have a wolf that researchers spent thousands of dollars on, and then having someone thoughtlessly kill that animal when they could have released it for investigation, that’s a huge lack of judgment.”
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Gianforte also illegally killed a moose too young to be harvested in 2000, which he admitted while running for Congress. He was fined $ 70 after reporting the error.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment after hours.
Associated Press contributed to this report.