Conservation Officer Reports for Recent Wolf Poaching Cases



Wolf shot in rear legs by Steven Kohl of Manitowoc, Wisconsin on 11/18/17.

The following are the reports written by Wisconsin and Michigan conservation officers (game wardens) investigating recent cases where a deer hunter and trapper illegally killed a gray wolf. These are not our exaggerations, they are the words of licensed law enforcement officers responding to the increase of violence directed towards the wolves of Wisconsin and Michigan. The wolf shot in its rear legs by Steven Kohl dragged itself 35 yards before she died from her wounds.


“Once we got as close to the wolf as we thought we could get, we proceeded on foot to a large marshy swamp and located the deceased wolf very close to the location provided by the GPS collar. I saw that the wolf was generally black in color and lying on its left side in a patch of brush. I took several photos of the wolf which are in the attached photography log. Upon closer examination, I saw significant trauma to the left and right rear legs. Based on experience and training the trauma appeared consistent with a gunshot wound. One or both of the rear legs appeared to be broken. Based on training and experience, I did not believe the wolf could have traveled very far after being shot. I was able to back track the wolf’s movement by following what appeared to be a drag trail of flattened vegetation and blood approximately 35 yards to where the wolf was when I believed it was shot.”

Once Wisconsin conservation officers located Steven Kohl, who had been deer hunting from a deer stand overlooking where the wolf was shot, he denied killing the animal,

“I told Kohl we had a mortality signal on a wolf that was shot and it was found in front of his deer stand. Kohl stated that none of the wolves he saw appeared to be wounded and he did not shoot it. I explained the evidence to Kohl and suggested perhaps he made an error in  judgement and took a shot at the wolf. Kohl then admitted he ‘shot to keep them going’ and that he doesn’t shoot to kill. Kohl stated that he took one shot at the black wolf when it was out in the swamp straight east of him. After shooting at the wolf, Kohl stated he didn’t see the wolf again. Kohl stated he shot the wolf about 930am on November 18, 2017.”

“Warden Ebert then instructed Kohl that we would be seizing his rifle and trail camera. Kohl was informed he’d be receiving a citation in the mail for the illegal bait placement (WP note, Kohl and others on the property were using corn as deer bait, in violation of a baiting ban in Oneida County.) and that additional charges would be sought through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or the WI DNR for the illegal harvest of a wolf.”


Wolf hidden by Donald Aberly


“I observed a front leg with blood located near the paw. This is common in injury to K-9 animal from being caught in a leg hold trap. I observed a blood spot on the center of the rear head…I advised ABERLY that the owner of the property found the blood trail to the wolf. And he had a camera on his gate that got a picture of his truck…I advised ABERLY that we were there for a wolf that was caught in a trap and shot. It was dumped just behind the trap. The trapping was the same as your sets I checked in the past. I asked if he was intentionally targeting wolves or was it an accidental catch. I told him that there was more information that led us to talk to him. I don’t think you shot it on purpose but we need to know what you did.”


Close-up of wolf’s head.

Once confronted with the evidence that placed him at the scene of the crime, Aberly confessed:

“I shot it. It was jumping around a lot. I thought it was a coyote. I saw it was a wolf and put it under the tree. I pulled my traps…I used shovel to cover up trap site.” Conservation officers asked Aberly if he had the trap the wolf was caught in, “I don’t know which one exactly but just like this set, held up a leg hold with a stake. I observed a pile of leg holds (traps) in the barn with stakes.”


leghold trap wound.


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