Michigan conservation officers obtained confessions Tuesday from two Upper Peninsula men suspected in separate, unrelated wolf poaching incidents in Ontonagon and Menominee counties.
Prosecuting attorneys are reviewing details of the two cases, with decisions on specific charges to be brought expected soon. Gray wolves are a protected species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and as such, can only legally be killed in defense of human safety.
The names of the men – a 58-year-old from Greenland and a 67-year-old from Menominee Township – are being withheld pending their arraignments in the respective county district courts.
“Wolves are examples of important wildlife species that play a critical predator role in the ecosystems of the Upper Peninsula,” said Lt. Ryan Aho, a district law supervisor in Marquette. “Our conservation officers did some great work in obtaining confessions from these two individuals who killed wolves collared for study purposes by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.”
On Monday, DNR Wildlife Division personnel said they had received a mortality signal from the collar of an adult female wolf in Ontonagon County. Sgt. Marc Pomroy and DNR Conservation Officer Zach Painter went to the site, which was located off Gardner Road in Greenland Township.
“We gathered some information at the scene, and we conducted suspect interviews the following day,” Painter said. “During those discussions, the suspect admitted he shot the animal with a rifle, which we seized as part of the investigation.”
In Menominee County, during the firearm deer hunting season, a mortality signal was received from a 1-year-old male wolf on Nov. 19.
“I retrieved the collar later that day from a place along River Road in Lake Township,” said DNR Conservation Officer Jeremy Sergey. “The collar was intact, covered in blood, but was not attached to a wolf.”
After searching a vast area, and conducting numerous interviews, the officers developed several suspects by the following day.
In an interview with conservation officers this week – the same day the confession was obtained in the Ontonagon County case – the man from Menominee Township confessed to killing the wolf. He was one of the original suspects developed in November.
The DNR investigates and pursues vigorous prosecution of any wolf poaching cases. Illegally killing a wolf is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, and the cost of prosecution.
Suspected poaching violations may be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.
Wolves killed in poaching incidents are typically sent to the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Lansing, where necropsies are performed.
For more information on wolves, visit Michigan.gov/Wolves.
Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.
Learn more about Michigan conservation officers at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.