Sundles said to plead guilty of trying to poison wolves with poison meatballs

Tim Sundles from the Salmon, Idaho area will plead guilty next week to spreading poison meatballs on the Salmon-Challis

National Forest in an effort to illegally poison wolves. Back in 2004 a number of poison meatballs turned up and dogs were killed or sickened..

Story in Reuters.

Added on Dec. 6. There is more on Sundles in High Country News blog. “Wannabe Wolf Poisoner Confesses.” The blog points out that there were many attempts at wolf poisoning that winter, not just around Salmon, Idaho, but also (especially so) in NW Wyoming.







  1. Jim Avatar

    Montana must have more liberal laws allowing for the murder of animals. Had Montanans the choice, would they have told Sundles to stay in ID?

  2. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    It is kind of funny that the photo that showed up on the Reuters web site linked above is of black, government helicopters…

    On a related note, the Idaho Statesman today ran an editorial today asking readers if they believe wolves have affected elk hunting in Idaho. They asked 7 people to respond and only one, Lynne Stone (a hunter and wolf advocate) reponded positively towards wolves. I guess that is not surprising.

    At first, I was disappointed in the Statesman for publishing this, but I must remind myself that even though I believe that the hunters’ perception of a decline in elk activity is due to changed behavior and not decreased numbers of elk, perception is reality in the mind of the public. So the question becomes how do we change the perception? Science and facts are not cutting it, that is clear. Are there ways to re-educate hunters so their hunts can have a greater chance of success in the presence of wolves? Not being a hunter myself, I don’t know the answer to this. I want to avoid getting into a debate on the merits of hunting or the rightness or wrongness of the hunters claims and see if there are ways to address the percieved problem, because I don’t think, as one of the writers who’s opinion was printed in the Statesman said, that you cannot be both pro-elk and pro-wolf…

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think most hunters don’t like wolves, but its hard to tell what percentage. I know there was an organized effort to get negative stories to the Idaho Statesman because the production of today’s story was well advertised by that paper and postings were made on web boards to “send in your anti-wolf stories.”
    It’s impossible to change some folks’ minds because there is a strong incentive to look for something to blame when a hunt goes badly (actually there’s an incentive to blame some force beyond yourself when anything goes badly).
    All I can think to do is to not criticize hunters as a group because they are very diverse. There are allies there. Try to defeat deliberate attempts to divide and conquer when it comes to wildlife policy, and point out obvious fallacies like the guy who said you can’t be pro-wolf and pro-ungulate (what does he think wolves eat?).
    Anti-conservation politicians understand very well that if hunters and those who enjoy wildlife in different ways were to become united, they could sweep aside the oil companies, the public land privatizers, the land developers, etc.. As a result, they promote issues to divide what could be a community over things like gun rights and predators.
    For example, the executive director of one Idaho “wildlife and hunting group” was actually a major staffperson for Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a senator who has never seen an exploitiive interest he doesn’t love.

  4. Jim Avatar

    I doubt that survey is a good representation of all hunter’s experiences, or of all responses to the survery. If it is then 85% of elk hunters had bad experiences, which is unrealistic. The Statesman must be pushing an anti-wolf agenda. But it shows how some people never grow out of that “I want what I want when I want it” phase we have as children.

    One guy is pro-ungulate because he kills them and eats them. By thatreasoning wolves are pro-elk because they kill them and eat them too. Only they do when the meat is at its freshest and tastiest.

  5. Alan Gregory Avatar

    Soon-to-be-former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and his campaign advisers were masters at the divide-and-conquer election strategy, urging outdoors people in Pennsylvania to “vote freedom, vote for Santorum.” And this was a guy whose conservation voting record never rose above 10 percent over two six-year terms. So yes, Ralph is right in his assessment. And yes, hunters and non-hunting conservationists could really turn things around fast if they came together.

  6. Robert Hoskins Avatar

    Having been a hunter many years, as well as being someone who has worked for outfitters summer and fall as well as being someone who has formally studied wolves on the ground, I think it would be fair to say that many hunters, and not a few outfitters, know that wolves haven’t had a serious impact on elk. I’ve heard that privately. I myself certainly know it; I have seen a significant shift in elk distribution where I live due to the presence of wolves, but I find the claim that wolves are killing off all the elk, which is what you hear constantly in the press, is quite dubious.

    At the same time, there is an incredible reluctance among people to stand up and say publicly what they know to be true. There is a culture in hunting of being anti-predator, just as there is a culture of hating predators among ranchers, although I know individual ranchers who actually have considerable tolerance for wolves, bears, and coyotes. But for them to say so is to risk sudden retalation and ostracization. (I know one rancher who is persona non grata with the Stockgrowers for his support of grizzly bears). Further, being anti-wolf is a political weapon to fight issues that have nothing to do with wolves, such as the determination of the livestock industry to maintain its political and economic privileges in a West that is undergoing significant demographic changes. There is a great fear of finding themselves outvoted and losing those privileges–subsidies and political power. That is especially true here in Wyoming. Beating the anti-wolf drum is a good way to keep up the fear of wolves and keep the votes coming your way.

    That’s precisely what the so-called Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is doing. Here in Wyoming, SFW is a front for the Stockgrowers, particularly regarding the issue of privatizing wildllife (game ranching for profit), but it has done a good job of suckering not very sophisticated hunters into its membership by beating the anti-predator drum. Indeed, these days, SFW is doing the only grass roots work with hunters in Wyoming on any topic, and it shows. That’s why SFW has been quite successful. The Director of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department always shows up at the SFW conventions. That says a lot about where the wind is blowing from.

    I think the real issue then with many hunters is not that they are inherently anti-wolf, but that we live in a culture where stating a tolerance for wolves brings immediate retaliation and ostracization. I know hunters whose businesses or livelihoods would suffer if they stated the most timid support for wolves. Then there’s the politics of an obsolete oligarchy such as the livestock industry crying crocodile tears about wolves (and grizzly bears) to keep itself on top.

    In other words, we have a serious cultural problem, and that is, to put it bluntly, how do those of us who support wolves publicly provide cover for individuals who feel the same way but cannot say so publicly without retaliation?

  7. Blaine Houberg Avatar
    Blaine Houberg

    What ever happened about the wolf he killed up in the Frank Church back in 2001? I’ve dug on that issue a bit and cannot find any resolution. Did the Feds drop that charge for his little sweetheart plea deal on the poisoning

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    He was never charged. He claimed it was self-defense and the only witness was his wife.

    It is clear he killed a wolf, however, because a USFWS person rode back into the the Wilderness with Sundles to investigate.

    I don’t think any of the Feds were of a mind to give him a sweetheart deal on anything.

  9. mike Avatar

    Sundles deserves to feast on a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs… his own meatballs!

  10. Jerry Black Avatar
    Jerry Black

    Good Grief!!….Where in Montana does this guy live? Like we don’t have enough of those types here without importing more.

    I don’t know where the Montana comment came from. Last I heard, he lived in Carmen, Idaho, just north of Salmon. RM

  11. john Avatar

    Looks like St. Ignatius, MT is the new location for his ammo company.

    Thanks, I’d missed that in the story. Idaho will sure miss him 😉 Ralph M

  12. talkingtotrees Avatar

    Whether it’s ignorance and spite or pure stupidity this guy needs to recognize and respect that there is an entire ecosystem that can be affected by his deathballs not just wolves and dogs as the article stated. How about the scavengers, the raptors, the numerous and various wildlife that share this national forest and it’s bounties where his poison is death by chance.
    I wish there were more severe consequences and certainly hope he’s not breeding more idiots.

  13. hydrodoug Avatar

    It’s amazing that a guy with such an obvious fear of predators moves from the “wolf-infested” Salmon area to the “grizzly-infested” Mission Valley of Montana. I’ve always been impressed that the people of the Mission Valley are tolerant enough to allow a grizzly population to survive there on the Valley floor…despitethe presence of thousands of people and subidvisions. Hopefully, an influx of peoplewith Sundles’ beliefs wont skew the demographics up there in a bad way.

  14. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    If I were one of the dog owners affected by this I would sue him in civil court, so he could keep spending his hard earned money on lawyers.

  15. Marilyn Mueller Avatar
    Marilyn Mueller

    Totally amazes me that a person like Sundles does this poisoning & then wants livestock owners to be in his “anti-wolf group”. Cattlemen & sheepmen don’t use dogs? Plus their dogs are out in the back country where he supposedly placed this low-life way of disposing of a wild canine. He’s just a lower form of white trash. Is it too soon to have a going away party for him? I mean we do want to make sure he’s gone B-4 we send out the invitations.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan