Wild wolves very rare in Illinois, but two face justice for shooting two of them-

A very few wolves have made it down from Wisconsin to Illinois,  a state that protects them regardless of what the federal government does or fails to do. The accused are using the old argument developed by governor, then judge, Fredenthal in Wyoming, “I thought it was a coyote.”

Looking at Illinois on Google Earth, it appears the wolves probably followed the riparian forests along the Mississippi River south.  The corridor has is large deer population. The wolves were shot in separate incidents in jo Daviess County in a place not close to a Mississippi.

Area men accused of killing gray wolves. Under state law, wolves are ‘threatened’ animals. By Travis Morse.  Journal Standard.com

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

41 Responses to Men cited for killing grey wolves in Illinois!

  1. mikarooni says:

    This is just another reflection of what has happened to the upper midwest over the past few decades. From an area that was once rather enlightened, it is now represented by the likes of the Bachmanns, Scott Walker, Jessie Ventura, etc. It’s the new Appalachia.

    • WM says:


      You and I have found yet another topic for agreement.

    • wiliam huard says:

      The Danforths and Kemps are all gone. What’s left is a more extreme version of the “John Birch Society” with some newer racist elements in the tea party.
      We’ll have to let the “crazy” run it’s course. I hope we survive until that happens. This anti- science, anti-environment, bash the worker stance is not sustainable. People are rising up slowly. Hopefully part of the change will include how our wildlife is treated…..People are getting sick of the mindless “I thought it was a coyote” excuse.

  2. John says:

    I spend a ton of time in Yellowstone and the surrounding area. I’ve seen excited people mistake coyotes for wolves lots of times (“OOOOOHH look a wolf”), but I’ve never seen anybody mistake a wolf for a coyote. I’m glad that wolves are maybe dispersing further south in the midwest though.

    • somsai says:

      People often see what they think they should see. They go to Yellowstone to see wolves, so anything that looks like one must be one. If I saw a wolf around here I’m 99% sure my first thought would be coyotee, there’s been exactly one wolf that made it this far south.

      I’m pretty sure I saw a hybrid stuffed in a Bass Pro the other day. Short legs 🙂

  3. Mike says:

    Enlightened people have mostly left “flyover country” for the coasts.

    My theory? Weather. The weather in this area is horrific. It gets crazy hot, and mind-numbing cold. You don’t have these extremes anywhere else in the country. You have to be a lunatic to survive here. Sure, a place like Houston has brutal summers, but there are no extremes in the winter. So you get “time off”. Not the case for the Midwest. It’s so humid and sweltering near the cornfields you can hear your brain sizzle (some would say that’s the reason for many things here, or maybe it’s the freakish amount of pesticides on the corn).

    When the manufacturing jobs bailed, so did people, especially union folks. Why stay here if the job outlook is weak and the weather is torture? So they left for places like California or Oregon or Arizona or Florida. And why not?

    The best part about the Midwest is Chicago and Minneapolis. Wonderful cities with vibrant culture and all the things you could want in the world except for wilderness. But damn if that wilderness isn’t trying to come back. See the wolves in Illinois and the cougars. Crazy. Like lost children who’d disappeared years ago finally finding their way home. I wish they’d turn around. There be cornfields and strip malls here.

    Why continue to live in a place with the worst weather in the country? When I’m in places like Glacier and Crater Lake I hear folks from Seattle and Portland complain about their weather. They say it gets “into the 40’s” and rains a lot in the winter. They ask me how Chicago’s weather is. I tell them 92 degrees with a heat index of over 100, and -10 in the winter, with only four or so less inches of rain than Seattle per year. I also inform them that Seattle sees more sunny days, too.
    We’re insane for living out here. We really are. But Chicago’s a fine city. Maybe the best there is.

    • SEAK Mossback says:

      The author of Cadillac Desert makes a similar argument in his chapter about Floyd Dominy, that he was from some scorched, desolate part of Nebraska which gave him the perspective that whatever man did to the landscape could only improve on nature. It is a perspective that has run on both sides of politics, but does seem concentrated in some hot desolate places and more recently in far right Republicans since the big trade union/water infrastructure spending Democrats have been in decline. George Bush’s main filmed recreational activity on his Texas ranch was battling nature by cutting brush. For a person growing up in a place like that, where there is exceedingly little public land, if you are one of the landed gentry you feel an obligation to maintain dominion and make improvements — whether it be fighting brush, hunting coyotes or bringing in exotic African game. If not part of the gentry, you never experience much of nature and do not gain an appreciation for the natural wonders that can abound even in a place like that.

      Right after our former right-wing autocratic governor, Frank Murkowski, was elected he went two hunting trips. Neither in Alaska — one in Texas and the other to Scotland, two places in the world that epitomize privatization of hunting and absence of public land opportunity. He was always one who never saw any value in maintaining public land or it’s long-term wildlife values, but he did enjoy hunting in a pay-to-play world that he could afford and be looked after according to his station. Unfortunately, that’s a perspective that has apparently even invaded the priorities of the RMEF.

      • WM says:


        ++Unfortunately, that’s a perspective that has apparently even invaded the priorities of the RMEF.++

        You lost me with this last sentence.

        • SEAK Mossback says:

          WM –
          I have to admit my information on RMEF is about 5-6 years old and you probably are much more familiar with recent developments (I haven’t been able to find Bugle here on a newsstand for some time). Long ago, I used to love reading Bugle every month, particularly to see the prime habitat RMEF had acquired for both elk conservation and public use. However, it seemed like that slowed down, somewhere around the time the new $22 million facility in Missoula was built (which I have visited and admit is very nice). But the word was that a major donor or two, while fully captured by elk hunting and able to pursue it well-outfitted and wherever legal, were having ideological conflicts with the socialist idea of increasing the amount of public land and wanted the emphasis to change to work on private land. Some of that is certainly good policy, particularly for herds on public land that depend on private land for winter range, but based on cost-benefit analysis rather than ideology. But that’s where things are headed with many public interest initiatives including habitat conservation, with everybody (lower class, middle class, government) increasingly tapped out except the 1 to 3%, organizations will continue to feel pressure to respond to the full range of personal interests and ideological beliefs of their most important donors.

          • WM says:


            I confess to never having set foot in the RMEF visitor center. though I have been by it a number of times. I understand they built another somewhere in PA about four years ago, about half the size and cost of the one in Missoula. Probably not the best use of their funds, and I think they cut back staff when their donor giving model and membership began to slide with the economy. Their push is indicative of their desire to make it a national organization. Their conservation efforts just passed something like 6 million acres of public easements, swaps, purchases and donations to the USFS, continuing the “socialist” idea of access to wildlands for all. Many of their acquisitions have in fact helped with the critical winter range issue (there will never be enough as long as cattle are grazed on public lands at lower elevation, and land development in valley bottoms continue, IMHO. Buthey are also doing quite a bit in the East and Midwest now, as well, preserving lands in various ways (a good thing for all who appreciate wildlife).

            Their member base has shifted some under the new business model of CEO David Allen, with his historical ties as a marketing guy for NASCAR and Pro Rodeo. I kind of find the former disingenuous, as there is absolutely nothing NASCAR racing has in common with preserving wildlands and conservation of anything; how many acres of land have been paved over for race tracks and spectator parking lots, as well as the gas and pollution that goes with the …sport(?).

            RMEF has struggled with the wolf reintroduction to the NRM, first remaining silent and taking no stand (but definitely watching the expanding wolf population and reputed impacts to elk). Then about two years ago Allen comes out of the chute like raging bull and goes after Judge Molloy, and I would expect behind the scenes working other political issues for swift Congressional delisting wherever wolves and elk/deer might conflict.

            Even with the criticisms of the organization, I still fork over my $25 for the bi-monthly magazzine and a membershiip. The elk/wildlife photos are still incredible, and the stories pretty good to so so, with the emphasis change. I don’t like the “gear” reviews, which have made the magazine evermore like the hook and bullet rags that are out there these days. I don’t think they sell Bugle on the magazine racks anymore. Hey, just join up for the magazine. It’s cheap, and their website has some pretty good stuff as well.

          • WM says:


            Addendum: Membership is now $35, and the website is RMEF.org. Website has an article on permanant protection of 900+ acres of winter range in the Cabinet Mtns. of ID through a land exchange.

    • Paul says:


      Good post, but you can keep Chicago. Minneapolis, yes, but Chicago no. No offense, but the only way I want to ever see Chicago again is when I am coming in to or leaving O’Hare. I absolutely hate driving through that city. I remember about 15 years ago when I drove a friend of mine from WI to Chicago to visit his mom. We were near Cicero and he told me not to stop at the stop signs, especially after dark. That left quite an impression on me that lingers to this day. Of course the only time I ever did get mugged was outside of Minneapolis so no city is perfect.

  4. SEAK Mossback says:

    It sounds like it has been publicized that wolves are in the state and protected. If those guys did not turn the animals in immediately but had to be reported by witnesses, they should not have any leg to stand on about it being a mistake.

  5. Immer Treue says:

    +++Kurt added that there is a clear difference between a wolf and a coyote, and that if hunters are not sure, they should not shoot the animal.

    “Everyone says, ‘I thought it was a coyote,’ but the differences between a wolf and a coyote are quite clear, and anyone who is not sure, should not be attempting to kill the animal,” Kurt said in a news release issued by his office.+++

    This is not meant as anti-hunting. Of the tens (hundreds) of thousands of folks that hunt, this does not apply to them. However, it does apply to those who blacken the eyes of all those who do hunt. What is so difficult about a 100% ID of your target, and waiting(hunting) for that clean shot/arrow that puts the animal down quickly and with as little trauma as possible?

    If there is one, it is one two many of mistaken identity, because a life is gone. On this blog site, the mistaken ID by the Nevadan bear hunters lead to the death of one of them, and the bear they should not have shot. Last year a 12 year old was out with his grand father and killed a hiker by mistake. These two individuals kill two wolves they “thought” were coyotes. These mistakes result in death, or serious injury. These are mistakes that need not be made.

    • Paul says:


      That is the problem with the anti-predator mindset. To people like these coyotes, wolves, bears, foxes, etc. are nothing more than moving targets. A couple of years ago a guy who was hunting turkeys shot and killed a wolf that had wandered in to South Central Wisconsin where they are rarely seen. The first words out of his mouth were “I thought it was a coyote.” If you are out hunting turkeys to “feed your family”, why do you feel the need to be shooting coyotes anyway? In my entire life, I have seen probably a half a dozen coyotes. I have done quite a bit of hiking in the Smoky/Blue Ridge Mountains, Wisconsin, the Black Hills, and even some in eastern Wyoming. All I see are squirrels and once in a great while a gray/red fox or deer. In fact the only coyotes that I have ever seen are in the town where I live, and they were never a threat. Why has war been declared on them? They are just filling the niche that was left when the wolves and cougars were killed off. This whole concept of “predator control” comes across to me as nothing more than a legal killing spree that is justified as a “control” action.

      • Mike says:

        That’s the problem. They’ll shoot just about anything they see.

        The biggest problem for wildlife is morons in the woods with guns. Always has been, always will be.

        • wiliam huard says:

          And they will call us emotional anti-hunters because we see the “insanity” at the way people indiscriminately kill wildlife. They will continue to try to marginalize us because they want to keep things the way they are.

      • wiliam huard says:

        People shoot coyotes because in hunter land you never pass up a chance to kill one. It’s such a mindless waste

      • Immer Treue says:


        It’s not just predators. Why must I, and my dog wear orange during the deer season? Part of the reason is for field of vision behind the target, but JHC, there was a woman shot in Massachusetts when a deer hunter (a state police officer no-less) mistook her golden retriever as a dog, shot at the dog and missed but hit the woman! How many deer hunters get shot every year?

        savebears has mentioned his goldens wearing orange probably saved their lives. If one hunts, and your game is legal, is it too much to ask to properly ID your target? Believe me when I say I’m not slamming hunters, as I do enjoy the fruits of both hunting and fishing. My point is know what you are shooting at and make it a good clean shot.

  6. Immer Treue says:

    One last thing while on the topic of proper ID. This is one of the reasons I find trapping unethical, because non-target animals do get caught. I’ve asked this before, but is there a depredation fund if your dog gets shot(mistaken ID), or dies in a trap? Seems only fair.

  7. Who’s up for shooting a television ad that we can syndicate in every state where the gray wolf is under threat? We cut a short ad with a strong V.O by a celebrity with a strong voice citing lines from Jack London stories and pluck folks’ heart strings like these new Chrysler ads (Clint Eastwood starred during Super Bowl). Why not put some cash together and get this on the air like a campaign ad. These creatures are our brothers, and they need some mad PR. This is infuriating to see happen. Email me with any ideas.

    • Paul says:


      That’s a great idea, but funding appears to be the major issue. The anti-predator groups seem to have endless resources and the pro-wolf groups are many loose factions with little coordination. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. My resources are meager, but I have a big mouth 🙂

      You are right about the Chrysler ads. I thought they were very well done. I also read that Mr. Eastwood is not a fan of sport hunting. No matter the topic or role he is always great. Plus he is an Army vet to so that scores points in my book.

      • Hey Paul,

        I have all the gear we would need. We would basically need to find a local guide to take us out to get some footage in the can. We can use my edit suite here in NYC to cut it and master. We basically need a sponsor to buy the ad space on network. Any celebrity wolf lovers out there? If we get
        aa celebrity to sign a letter of intent, we
        can raise the cash no problem. Does anyone here know any

        • Previous post continued…

          Any celebrity wolf lovers out there? If we get a celebrity to sign a letter of intent, we can raise the cash no problem. Does anyone here know any celebrities? I’ll fly out West to get the footage myself. Drop of a hat.

        • wiliam huard says:


          The HLN network (CH 42) on cable, has a sympathetic host, her name is Velez-Mitchell I think. Bob Barker is probably the most generous animal rights personality right now…..I don’t know if Bob has a facebook page.

          • Paul says:

            Also HSUS has several sympathetic celebrities who are spokespeople for them. I think that I would avoid PETA. Their heart is in the right place, but they are too extreme even for me. I do like the lettuce bikinis though:)

        • Paul says:


          I live in Wisconsin, but we are facing a potential wolf slaughter here as well. I saw your webpage and your work is impressive to say the least. I certainly don’t know any celebrities (that is a good thing), but there are certainly some out there that I hope would be horrified if they knew what was really happening to wolves in this country.

  8. Harley says:

    I saw this in a news feed. I’m glad these guys are being cited. I can only hope it’s enough to deter the next person.
    Still not sure how well a wolf would fit into the burbs or the urban landscape but out where these wolves were there is plenty of room to run and certainly enough game to keep them happy.

    I’m with you man. I’ve lived in the shadow of Chicago all my life. It does have it’s good parts but for the most part, it is not the best city out there. Not a bad place to visit but no way would I want to live there! I’ve heard wonderful things about Minneapolis though. To be honest, I’d take Milwaukee over Chicago any day.

    • Paul says:


      Milwaukee is ok. It has a certain “blue collar” charm to it. But the crime there is awful. They also had quite a problem with those “flash mob” beatings over the summer just as Chicago did. I cam close to getting an IT job with Kohl’s Corp there over the summer. I am actually glad that I did not get it. I will take Madison any day over Milwaukee.

      • Harley says:

        I guess I just see the fun side. We used to attend Irish Fest every year and found the experience a fun one. Parking is so much more reasonable and it just felt safer at least in that area of the city. Also had a friend who worked right near the lake off of Wisconsin Ave and I got to know that area fairly well too. Madison… hmm… will have to visit. Overall, I really do love Wisconsin so much better than Illinois. Even Minnesota! I’m so sick of the corruption in this state. I know it’s bound to be wherever I go, but it just seems so bad here. Maybe Chicago politics just have me jaded.

        • Harley says:

          Ha! ok I just love just about any place better than Illinois now that I’m thinking about it!

        • Paul says:

          I will warn you about Madison though. It is the San Francisco of the Midwest. VERY liberal, but a very beautiful city surrounded by four large lakes. To the West are the Baraboo Range bluffs. It is like a mini-mountain range. It is absolutely gorgeous in that area especially during the fall. Devil’s Lake State Park is especially a treat too. As for Milwaukee, I used to go to Summerfest every year during the nineties. I miss it, and I might go this year if they get a handle on the thugs that caused the problems last year. I guess this is where “concealed carry” might be a good thing. I also used to go to concerts at the Rave/Eagle Ballroom off of Wisconsin Ave. right in “the hood” all the time. I tell you I would rather face down a grizzly than spend time in that area after dark. As for corruption, Scott Walker is making sure that Wisconsin is becoming a rival to Illinois in that regard. Wisconsin is a wonderful state that has been sold out to special interests and corporate masters. It is so sad. I am actually considering getting out of here because of it.

          • Harley says:

            If I wasn’t so entrenched in Illinois (46 years and counting, good grief I feel old!) I’d probably very seriously consider a change in address. Almost moved to Iowa 18 years ago, but then found out my ex was only stringing me along. For what reasons, I’ll never know. I do admit, I’m very glad my last one is almost out of the school system in this state.
            We’ve been up to Devil’s Lake camping years ago when both kids were younger. It is a beautiful area. I also love the LaCrosse area, the bluffs are beautiful. Heck across the river isn’t so bad either really. Minnesota isn’t a bad place. It must be the middle of winter. I get restless and think of all the other places I’d like to visit, even if they are colder than here!

          • Paul says:

            It is winter, but not like any winter that I have ever experienced. This is just crazy. I have never seen such a prolonged stretch of weather above freezing like we have this year. What is causing it, I don’t know but it is certainly strange. I never used to be able to take long walks outside like I have this winter. I don’t know if this is good or bad. LaCrosse is indeed a beautiful area. It is that way until you get a few miles in to Minnesota and then it gets flat as a board. Southern Minnesota reminds me of central Illinois for some reason.

          • Harley says:

            Oh yeah, definitely the weirdest winter I can ever remember. Frankly, I don’t like it. I’d prefer cold and snow when it’s supposed to be cold and snowy! I just hope this summer isn’t going to be one of those overly warm and humid ones.

  9. Chris Edwards says:

    You can likely forget any more wolves wandering down from Wisconsin, at least thats how it looks if things progress as expected since the latest delisting. I’ve lived up here off and on since 1974, with but two breaks, one for the Navy, and five years I lived in Alaska, the anti-wolf lobby is virtually foaming at the mouth to kill gray wolves!

    Wisconsin has the nations largest whitetail deer herd, a population that hovers consistently between one and two million! Wisconsin has an estimated 30,000 – 40,000 black bear, an unprecedented population, likely the most of any of the lower forty eight states. We are even able to hunt these bruin with packs of dogs(and they do)and still the population is virtually unchecked!

    Amazingly, a population of some 600-800 gray wolves is now considered such a dire threat to our deer, livestock, and pets, that we must “kill em to save em!” Irate hunters who lose hunting hounds to gray wolves, especially bear hunting hounds, are chomping at the bit to kill em back, which ought to be interesting considering how successful they’ve been in reducing the black bear population.

    A threat to the deer population? This is preposterous on it’s face, Back in the 30’s(1930’s)there were some 300,000 whitetail deer in all of the United States! In Wisconsin we estimate that an individual gray wolf may consume 20 such deer per year, that would mean that 800 gray wolves tally 16,000 whitetail per year. Consider, humans harvest between 350,000 and 500,000 whitetail deer in Wisconsin every autumn! Automobiles kill far more deer each year then all of the gray wolves combined!

    I have no complaints with an honest farmer or rancher dispatching gray wolves in defense of their livestock, however that does not extend to poisoning, or pre-emptive trapping, or shooting of them. I do have a significant complaint against farmers/ranchers that free range their herds, and then whine about losing some of them to gray wolves.

    I also hold absolutely zero sympathy for bear hunters, or bobcat hunters, who use GPS collared dogs to run down, or tree their quarry until the hunter can drive up in his/her suv and kill it. These people provoke an emotion in me that is not healthy, especially when they whine after their packs of hounds encounter gray wolves, which then usually kill the bear hounds, prompting the now distraught suv imbedded sportsmen to seek compensation from the taxpayer for their loss.

    We have a state rep who would like to open a hunting season on sand hill cranes, the reasoning being the damage they do to poor farmers crops.

    Unfortunately, that mentality appears to be gaining the highground, the results will be predictable for Wisconsins beautiful, wild creatures…

  10. Louise Kane says:

    I have done quite a bit of research on photographers who have taken some amazing images of wolves. To start a website (which I am still working on) I contacted some professional photographers who specialized in wolf photgraphy. I asked and recieved permission to use some images. I have been overhwelmed by the generosity shown in the the donation of images. I would be glad to discuss some ideas I have about an ad campaign for the inernet using some of the images. I love your idea for a national campaign. Its my dream. But as a starting point, the internet would be a good place for some hard hitting ads. I have a long history of commercial advertising production experince. I am a decent rough cut editor but do not have the skills to do a full edit as most of my work has been as a location producer. On the documentaries I produce I always work with an editor even if I did the rough cut. and I used to work with Avid and and much less familar with Final Cut then I should be. if you want to contact me to team up to put some ads together I would be very happy to hear from you.

    Please ask for my e mail.

  11. Sylviania says:

    Wow, some of the comments here are certainly interesting. It is possible that these wolf killers really did think it was a coyote. Since the wolf population in Illinois is rather small, it is feasible that these men didn’t even consider it possible that they were looking at a wolf when they killed it. I think it is more likely a case of normalcy bias than being a rabid union-hating, anti-environmental, Bachman-supporting, church-going, bitter, racist Republican. In addition, I personally saw a completely grey coyote along the side of route 23 between Marengo and Sycamore, Il. in 2009. It had most likely been hit by a car, and it was lying dead along the road. I got out to inspect it, and it was a grey coyote about the size of a medium dog. I think that to an inexperienced person from a reasonable distance this very same coyote could have been mistaken for being a wolf. Who knows? Maybe it was a wolf, but since I didn’t consider it even a possibility at the time, I went home and told my spouse that I saw a dead grey coyote along the side of the road. Who knows?

  12. Jon-TT says:

    I have some old family history from the early 1800’s that told the story of grey wolves outside of my great grandfathers farm cabin in southern Illinois. fight over scraps and carcasses from hunting expeditions or slaughtering and processing meat for the winter. As an avid hunter I would welcome them back and accept the fact that they need to be protected. However, I can understand how others may have mistaken them for a Coyote. I have encountered mixed Coyote and domestic dogs in Indiana, and they are often larger in body but have a distinctive white tipped tail. The Grey wolf subject certainly warrants further study and I hope capture and release projects to place them back in the Shawnee National Forest would be considered.


February 2012


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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