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Official: Trespass with wolves an honest mistake --- - yes and elephants fly

Official: Trespass an honest mistake

CODY, Wyo. - Saying it was an "honest mistake," a federal official apologized to a rancher whose land a government wildlife biologist ended up on while placing tracking collars on wolves.

"I apologize to you if our wolf monitoring team inadvertently used your land to place radio collars on four wolves we had tranquilized," Ralph Morganweck, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote to Ralph Larsen of the Larsen Land Co.

A copy of the letter was sent to Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who has asked for an investigation by the departments of Interior and Justice at the request of the Park County Commission.

Enzi's action was prompted by Randy Kruger, a Larsen Ranch stockholder and employee, who filed a complaint with Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric. Skoric asked the state Division of Criminal Investigation to investigate and its results are still pending.

Kruger said the federal agency did not have permission to use ranch land for handling wolves on Feb. 14.

Morganweck's letter noted the site was "unfenced and unsigned."

"The wolf monitoring crew believed they were on public land," as it had caught the wolves primarily on public land, he said.

"It is never the Fish and Wildlife Service's intention to go onto private property without the express permission of the landowner.

"If our team was on your land while processing these wolves, it was an honest mistake," he said.

Morganweck said it was important that the wolves, which were from the Washakie pack, be collared because they had killed livestock in the past.

The radio collars allow biologist to find wolves and deal with problem animals and minimize depredation, he said.

"As a result of this monitoring, we now know the Washakie pack moved out of the immediate area and are back near their usual territory near Dubois," he said.

Meantime, a second Meeteetse ranch filed a trespass complaint against the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Daniel Ochsner and Susan Barrett, owners of the Flying River Ranch near Meeteetse, and ranch manager Jim Gould said a green truck with government license plates drove on their land without permission on Feb. 15.

State and federal agency representatives said they are unaware of the incident.

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