An anti-wolf Montana hunter sparked outrage on social media after running over two young wolves with his wife’s van.
Toby Bridges runs a Facebook page called “Lobo Watch” in which he details his plan to rid Montana of wolves.
The group describes itself as “Sportsmen Taking Charge of Predator Problems."
“We are here to support the efforts of all who feel that in order to save wildlife, outdoor recreation and a healthy outdoor lifestyle, sportsmen must fight radical anti-hunting environmental groups and state and federal wildlife agencies which have abandoned those who have financed real wildlife conservation efforts in this country for the past 75 to 100 years,” the page says.
On Sept. 18, the group posted photographs of a dead wolf in a photo album labelled “Conquests.” In one of the pictures the van can be seen.
“The idiot braggart and social sociopath who did this is a lowdown confirmed coward and anyone who associates with him is the same,” commented Deborah Leddon. “How low down and cowardly!”
Bridges was reportedly travelling around 55 mph when he hit two wolves, killing at least one.
The images have been reported to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials, who are investigating the incident.
“We're trying to determine, first of all, what exactly we can do with something somebody says on Facebook with no other physical evidence,” Warden Capt. Joseph Jaquith told the Great Falls Tribune. “Whether or not it's true remains to be seen.”
Bridges later claimed he was protecting a calf elk from the wolf and he drove by just in time.
"Just past MM4 (mile maker 4), a cow elk and calf suddenly ran right out onto Interstate 90, and I let up on the gas and had just started to brake — in case more elk followed," Bridges wrote. "What followed were two adult wolves. The cow jumped over the concrete barrier separating West and East traffic lanes, the calf stayed on 'my' side — and both were running up the highway, toward the pass. The wolves went after the calf ... and I let off the brake and hit the accelerator. I was going to save that calf."
"There was no time to hit the brakes (like I really would?) and I heard two distinct loud 'thumps,'" he added.
He rounded the pass and saw “the dead wolf laid on the shoulder.”
“I saw the other pup — dragging a broken leg — topping a steep bank about 80 or 90 yards upslope, just as it went back into the timber,” he added. “I thought about going up and putting the young wolf out of its misery…then I gave that second thought. The two adult wolves were still in the very close vicinity ... and I did not have a gun in the van."
He did, however, get out of the van to take pictures of the dead wolf.
Brooks Fahy, of the national wildlife conservation organization Predator Defense, compared the incident to a hate crime.
"To me it's like a hate crime," Fahy told the Great Falls Tribune. "You look at the language in these posts and it starts feeling very psychopathic. I'm very concerned about this."
"This type of vitriol and hatred tends to build if it goes unchallenged," Fahy said. "One thing that's very disconcerting so far in the Northern Rockies — Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming — is we're constantly hearing of animals being intentionally gut-shot, dead wolves being posed in disturbing position for photos. As far as I'm aware, none of these agencies, including Montana, have come out and publicly said, 'this is deplorable; this language is deplorable.'"
Image credit: Facebook