Two recent incidents where federally protected gray wolves were illegally killed have made it through the prosecutorial stage and will result in sentences handed down to the two men responsible, Steven Kohl of Wisconsin and Donald Aberly of Michigan.
- On November 14, 2017, Michigan conservation officers located a dead wolf hidden under a tree with evidence suggesting the animal was shot. Officers located a trap site nearby and evidence was gathered suggesting the wolf was caught in a trap, shot and then hidden. Two days later, the officers obtained a confession from a trapper who stated he had caught the animal and shot it.
- On November 18, 2017, Steven Kohl of Manitowoc shot a wolf with a tracking collar on the first day of deer season. Kohl and another hunter were also issued citations for illegal baiting.
Wolf Patrol encourages supporters of wolf recovery in the Great Lakes to write letters to Judge’s in both cases asking that the convicted pay for the costs of the DNR’s investigations in each state, as well as lose hunting and trapping privileges for at least 3 years. We believe such a punishment would help deter future acts of wolf poaching more than any prison sentence.
2 South Sixth Street, Crystal Falls, MI 49920
If thinking of attending, please contact the Iron County prosecutor or judge’s office as these things tend to get moved around.
Iron County Prosecutor: 906 875-6628, Iron County Courthouse: 906 875-3301, District Court Iron County 906 875-0619
State of Wisconsin vs. Steven R. Kohl, Oneida County Case Number 2018CF000014
Sentencing for Kohl is scheduled for February 16, 2018, 9:30am Central Time, Courtroom, 3rd Floor, Oneida County Courthouse
The Oneida County Clerk has told supporters that the judge in this case will not read any letters that are only written to him alone, you have to cc copies to the District Attorney and Kohl’s attorney. The clerk said letter-writers could send all 3 letters in one envelope to her office, and she would give the copies to the judge, DA and Kohl’s attorney. If you would rather send individual letters to the parties concerned, Here are the addresses.
Oneida County Clerk (If sending all three letters):
ATTN: Judge Patrick F. O’Melia, Oneida County Courthouse P.O. Box 400, 1 S. Oneida Avenue, Rhinelander, WI, 54501
The DA’s address is:
District Attorney, Michael W. Shriek, P.O. Box 400, 1 S. Oneida Ave., Rhinelander, WI 54501
Kohl’s attorney’s address:
Steven Michael Lucareli, Lucareli Law Offices, LLC, Steven M. Lucareli, 433 East Sheridan St., Eagle River, WI 54501
- Why wolves are important to you
- Michigan/Wisconsin residents support wolf recovery
- Michigan/Wisconsin residents want poaching laws to be upheld
“It is my understanding that Donald Curtis Aberly, Crystal Falls, MI has pled guilty and will be sentenced on February 20, 2018 for killing a wolf on or about 11/12/2017-11/14/2017. I believe the U.P. is a special place because of wolves. Wolves provide many ecological benefits. Wolves help control beaver populations, thus minimizing the damage they cause through construction of their dams. Research also suggests that wolves may limit the spread of CWD by removing the diseased deer from the herd.
Unfortunately, a small segment of society, when it comes to wolves, believe in “SSS”, (shoot, shovel and shut up) and will illegally kill a wolf either because of a long-held hatred or they simply believe they won’t get caught. As an experienced trapper, Mr. Aberly should have known that even a small wolf is larger than a very large coyote. Wolves have distinctively long legs and large paws compared to a coyote. Upon realizing he caught a wolf in his coyote trap, Mr. Aberly had choices. He could have released the wolf, without penalty. He could have called the DNR office in Crystal Falls and they could have released it (or collared her for monitoring purposes). Instead, he decided to shoot it and hide the body and when confronted, lied until presented with the evidence.
When considering his sentence, I ask that the court review MCL 324.40118 (amended violation as misdemeanor; penalty; additional penalties) and MCL 324.40119 (restitution). Mr. Aberly should also be reminded that as a federally protected species, he could have been federally charged with civil and criminal penalties far greater that state guidelines. In addition to any fines you deem appropriate, I ask that Mr. Aberly lose the privilege of hunting or trapping for the next three years.
I do not believe jail time would serve any purpose however, I do ask that the court consider that Mr. Aberly attend a wolf education program. Although their 2018 programs have not yet been The Timber Wolf Alliance offers several programs throughout the year https://www.northland.edu/sustain/soei/twa/wolf-workshops/
Thank you for any consideration you give to my suggestions.
END OF SAMPLE LETTER
These are the penalties these individuals could have received if prosecuted for violating the Endangered Species Act:
(a) Generally (1) Except as provided in sections 1535 (g)(2) and 1539 of this title, with respect to any endangered species of fish or wildlife listed pursuant to section 1533 of this title it is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to— (A) import any such species into, or export any such species from the United States; (B) take any such species within the United States or the territorial sea of the United States; (C) take any such species upon the high seas; (D) possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship, by any means whatsoever, any such species taken in violation of subparagraphs (B) and (C); (E) deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce, by any means whatsoever and in the course of commercial activity, any such species; (F) sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any such species; or (G) violate any regulation pertaining to such species or to any threatened species of fish or wildlife listed pursuant to section 1533 of this title and promulgated by the Secretary pursuant to authority provided by this chapter.
(a) Civil penalties (1) Any person who knowingly violates, and any person engaged in business as an importer or exporter of fish, wildlife, or plants who violates, any provision of this chapter, or any provision of any permit or certificate issued hereunder, or of any regulation issued in order to implement subsection (a)(1)(A), (B), (C), (D), (E), or (F), (a)(2)(A), (B), (C), or (D), (c), (d) (other than regulation relating to recordkeeping or filing of reports), (f) or (g) of section 1538 of this title, may be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $25,000 for each violation. Any person who knowingly violates, and any person engaged in business as an importer or exporter of fish, wildlife, or plants who violates, any provision of any other regulation issued under this chapter may be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $12,000 for each such violation. Any person who otherwise violates any provision of this chapter, or any regulation, permit, or certificate issued hereunder, may be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $500 for each such violation. No penalty may be assessed under this subsection unless such person is given notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to such violation. Each violation shall be a separate offense. Any such civil penalty may be remitted or mitigated by the Secretary. Upon any failure to pay a penalty assessed under this subsection, the Secretary may request the Attorney General to institute a civil action in a district court of the United States for any district in which such person is found, resides, or transacts business to collect the penalty and such court shall have jurisdiction to hear and decide any such action. The court shall hear such action on the record made before the Secretary and shall sustain his action if it is supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole. (2) Hearings held during proceedings for the assessment of civil penalties authorized by paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be conducted in accordance with section 554 of title 5. The Secretary may issue subpenas for the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of relevant papers, books, and documents, and administer oaths. Witnesses summoned shall be paid the same fees and mileage that
are paid to witnesses in the courts of the United States. In case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpena served upon any person pursuant to this paragraph, the district court of the United States for any district in which such person is found or resides or transacts business, upon application by the United States and after notice to such person, shall have jurisdiction to issue an order requiring such person to appear and give testimony before the Secretary or to appear and produce documents before the Secretary, or both, and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by such court as a contempt thereof. (3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, no civil penalty shall be imposed if it can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant committed an act based on a good faith belief that he was acting to protect himself or herself, a member of his or her family, or any other individual from bodily harm, from any endangered or threatened species. (b)
Criminal violations (1) Any person who knowingly violates any provision of this chapter, of any permit or certificate issued hereunder, or of any regulation issued in order to implement subsection (a)(1)(A), (B), (C), (D), (E), or (F), (a)(2)(A), (B), (C), or (D), (c), (d) (other than a regulation relating to recordkeeping, or filing of reports), (f), or (g) of section 1538 of this title shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. Any person who knowingly violates any provision of any other regulation issued under this chapter shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both. (2) The head of any Federal agency which has issued a lease, license, permit, or other agreement authorizing a person to import or export fish, wildlife, or plants, or to operate a quarantine station for imported wildlife, or authorizing the use of Federal lands, including grazing of domestic livestock, to any person who is convicted of a criminal violation of this chapter or any regulation, permit, or certificate issued hereunder may immediately modify, suspend, or revoke each lease, license, permit, or other agreement. The Secretary shall also suspend for a period of up to one year, or cancel, any Federal hunting or fishing permits or stamps issued to any person who is convicted of a criminal violation of any provision of this chapter or any regulation, permit, or certificate issued hereunder. The United States shall not be liable for the payments of any compensation, reimbursement, or damages in connection with the modification, suspension, or revocation of any leases, licenses, permits, stamps, or other agreements pursuant to this section. (3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, it shall be a defense to prosecution under this subsection if the defendant committed the offense based on a good faith belief that he was acting to protect himself or herself, a member of his or her family, or any other individual, from bodily harm from any endangered or threatened species.
16 USC 1531-1544 Endangered Species Act (§ 1540. Penalties and enforcement)