Grisly Photo Adds Fuel to Wolf Hunt Debate

Apr 4, 2012

A photo of a trapped wolf in Idaho has splashed new fuel on the flames of the debate over wolves. Environmental groups say the image demonstrates what they see as the cruelty of wolf trapping in Idaho. But state and federal authorities say there was nothing illegal about the picture.

An anti-trapping group in Montana found the photo on a forum called In the background, you can see a wolf with one of its hind feet caught in a trap. The snow around the wolf has turned pink from blood. In the foreground a trapper smiles at the camera.

“This is one of those things that go viral,” says Gary Macfarlane. He's with the environmental group Friends of the Clearwater, based in Moscow, Idaho.

“Unlike a normal kind of hunting picture, this is one where the animal’s still alive and obviously trapped, and it’s been bleeding," Macfarlane says. "It’s sadistic, is what it is.”

The trapper in the photo is a fire manager with the U.S. Forest Service named Josh Bransford. He indicated in his online post that the wolf was bleeding from bullet wounds inflicted by other hunters.

Environmental groups are calling for legal action. But wildlife managers say they’ve investigated and Bransford was properly licensed and broke no laws.

A spokesman for Idaho Fish and Game did say wildlife managers would have preferred that Bransford dispatched the wolf quickly, before stopping to take a picture.

You can read more about Idaho wolf trapping rules here