Assistant U.S. Attorney Camille Bibles and Special Agent in Charge Phillip Land of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement of the Southwest Region, announced that Jason William Kunkel pleaded guilty yesterday to an Endangered Species Act, Class B misdemeanor for the unlawful take of a Mexican wolf in December 2017.
Immediately after entering the guilty plea, Kunkel was sentenced to five years of unsupervised probation. In addition to the conditions of his probation, Kunkel shall not engage in any hunting activities; shall be banned from the National Forests of Arizona except for travel through those areas on federal, state or local highways; shall pay $7,500 restitution to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and shall forfeit a Remington Model 770, bolt action rifle with scope to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Mexican wolves are one of the most endangered mammals in North America,” said Special Agent in Charge Phillip Land. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is steadfast in our commitment to enforcing wildlife laws and seeking justice against criminals who violate them. We thank the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their help in this case and for sending a message that these types of crimes will not be tolerated.”
In entering the guilty plea, Kunkel admitted that in December 2017, in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, he shot and killed a wild-born, female Mexican wolf. Kunkel admitted knowing that the animal was a Mexican gray wolf when he killed it. Kunkel’s co-defendant, Donald Justin Davis, is scheduled for a status hearing in Flagstaff, AZ on December 20, 2018.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement investigated this case with help from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Camille Bibles out of Flagstaff, AZ is prosecuting the case.
“Threatened and endangered wildlife investigations often cover multiple jurisdictions, state boundaries and require collaboration between state and federal agencies,” said Gene Elms, Law Enforcement Branch Chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The Arizona Game and Fish Department is proud of our longstanding partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the collaborative investigation, in this case, is a great example of what can be accomplished when we work together to protect wildlife resources.”
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. For more information on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office of Law Enforcement, visit www.fws.gov/le/.
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