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Mexican Wolf A Rural Viewpoint

Reality Bites

Updated 9-06

 

Anyone wanting to help Tim can send to: 

Tim Sundles Legal Defense Fund

Runft & Steele Law Offices, PLLC

1020 W. Main St., Suite 400

  Boise, Idaho 83702

 David Niven is lead council for Tim and John Runft (www.runftlaw.com) co-council and trustee of the defense fund.

Updated 9-18-06 By Sharon Beck 

I am endlessly impressed how ranchers always manage to dig deeper to help others in need. The midyear Oregon Cattlemen’s Association conference was no exception when Tim Sundles from Carmen, Idaho came to John Day to speak to the Wolf Task Force meeting.

 

The WTF sent Tim and his wife Diana an honorarium to visit Oregon and tell their story about living with wolves, killing a wolf that was attacking Diana, becoming the subject of intense interest from federal law enforcement people and finally Tim’s indictment on federal charges of “attempting to poison a wolf” and “illegal use of a pesticide on federal lands”.

 

Tim is an avid outdoorsman who loves to pack, hunt and camp. He is very familiar with all the wild places of Idaho. He manufactures ammunition for a living. The events that would change their lives forever began 5 years ago on just such a pack trip when a wolf pack surrounded their camp and howled all night. Come morning the alpha male came way too fast to have a closer look at Tim, maybe with breakfast in mind, and Tim shot at him clipping his forepaw and causing the wolf to veer off broadside heading straight for Diana. Diana hit the dirt and Tim dropped the wolf dead within ten feet of her.

 

Knowing the kind of scrutiny US Fish and Wildlife is capable of when investigating a wolf kill, even though wolves in Idaho are classified as a “non-essential experimental population” there, and caution being the better part of valor, the Sundles decided to keep the event to themselves.  And they did until they attended a meeting soon after where the wolf managers were informing the public that there was nothing to fear from wolves: “They never attack people.” Valor won and Tim told the audience the whole story as a warning to others that when in wolf country there may not be such a thing as “typical” wolf behavior, so be prepared.  That was the beginning of their life altering experience.

 

Following was the intense agency questioning of family, friends and neighbors and clients until Tim decided to put up a website of stories and pictures about peoples experiences that differed broadly from what the government was telling us, such as “wolves kill only what they need to eat”,  and “wolves very rarely kill livestock”.  He published studies that said the government overstated the prey base in Idaho some 600% before they introduced the wolf. Finally he posted a recipe sent from a friend in Canada for making pesticide laced meatballs in case anyone wanted to use an efficient means of dispatching varmints.  He advised against its use but it’s a given that desperate people sometimes may need to take desperate measures.

 

Sure enough, lightening struck!  In early 2004 someone put some of the special meatballs out on public land and a dog picked up one before any wolves, plentiful in the area, found it.   The dog lived and the authorities gathered up the meatballs then USFWS made the leap to the assumption that the poison was meant for wolves and  Sundle’s was responsible so they raided his house and grounds confiscating all manner of property as potential evidence that he was the perpetrator. Well over a year later, on October 5, 2005, the federal government charged Tim with attempting to kill a gray wolf and unauthorized use of a pesticide, two class B misdemeanors.

 

I asked Tim to come and speak to the committee because we had visited his website many times and found it to be a valuable source of accurate information and I knew ranchers would want to help with legal expenses that will be far beyond his ability to fund alone.  It was necessary to draw out information about the Tim Sundles Legal Defense Fund because Tim is not used to asking for help, pointing out that he just wants everyone to know what can happen when wolves come.  Immediately following his presentation Dwight Hammond, no stranger to the heavy hand of government, got to his feet and offered a hefty check from Hammond Ranches followed by Mack Birkmaier who explained to Tim that it was an old western tradition that when our friends have trouble and need a helping hand we “pass the hat”.   Mack and Bob Beck quickly filled their hats with cash and checks, stuffed it into a commemorative brief case that Bank of Eastern Oregon gave the conference registrants to mark the 100th anniversary of the Grant County Stock Growers and handed it to Tim. It was an emotional moment for Tim and Diana, our response was unexpected and their gratitude very evident; but the way I see it is it’s a small token of our gratitude to them for seeing how wrong the introduction of wolves is and trying to right it.

 

Anyone wanting to help Tim can send to:  Tim Sundles Legal Defense Fund

                                                                    Runft & Steele Law Offices, PLLC

                                                                         1020 W. Main St., Suite 400

                                                                         Boise, Idaho 83702

 

Or you can send it to me the way Denny Jones did and I’ll forward it.

 

David Nevin is lead council for Tim and John Runft (www.runftlaw.com) co-council and trustee of the defense fund. Helen Chenoweth Hage is his honorary Defense Fund Campaign Chairman.

 

Sharon Beck, Wolf Task Force Chairman

OCA