North Idaho

Idaho tickets Rathdrum man after defensive wolf kill

RATHDRUM, Idaho - A Rathdrum man who shot and killed a wolf on December 30 has been cited by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for unlawful possession of an untagged animal.

"I've never had so much as a parking ticket in my 53 years," Forrest Mize said. " I've never seen the inside of a courtroom. I'm not a poacher."

The retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander said he was just protecting the three family dogs. Mize was on one of his daily walks on his property on Rathdrum Mountain with the dogs when he came across an animal crouching in the woods. Because there's been mountain lions in the area, Mize said he carries a rifle around whenever he's outside.

"Just in case of porcupines and coyotes and bobcats and so on," Mize said.

Mize said the dogs were about 100 feet in front of him and didn't notice the animal in the woods. Mize said it looked like the animal was getting ready to make a move, so he didn't take any chances and brought the rifle up to his face.

"I got it in my scope and shot it and got lucky and hit the thing and only when I got up there I realized what it was," Mize said.

He was surprised to find out the animal was a roughly 100 pound wolf and adds he is glad he shot it when he did.

"I couldn't come home if I didn't come home with my three dogs," Mize said. "The wife would kill me."

For someone who doesn't hunt big game, Mize said he was pretty excited and wanted to keep the wolf to hang in the house. The problem is that Mize didn't have a tag to shoot and kill the animal and a taxidermist wouldn't handle the animal until he did. So he went and got one the day before the new year and went through with getting the wolf preserved.

"It's a once in a lifetime thing to get something like that and I'm not a wolf hunter," Mize said. "I'll probably never see another one."

Mize thinks that the purchase of the tag a couple days before the new year must have raised a red flag to Fish and Game officers. Mize said they asked if he shot the wolf before he had the tag and he admitted he did. Mize received a citation for possessing an untagged wolf and Fish and Game seized the pellet.

"Hunting licenses and tags are required by law in the state of Idaho for hunting activities," Regional Conservation Officer Craig Walker said. "It's the purchase of licenses and tags by sportsman that funds these operations."

Walker said that the only time killing a protected animal without a tag is in self defense or defense of livestock.

"That's up to an officer's discretion to investigate such the claim and determine if it's valid and legitimate situation or not," Walker said.

Walker said that he can't specifically address Mize's case because it's still under investigation, but does note that the citation has been submitted to the prosecutor's office.Mize is facing a misdemeanor violation. Walker said the maximum penalty is a fine between $25-$1,000, up to six months in jail and hunting or fishing license revoked for up to three years.

"I didn't see another way to do it," Mize said. "I guess I could have thrown him in the trash and been done with it or skinned it myself. I tried to do the right thing, but I guess I did it the wrong way."

Mize said he will go to court to try to get the violation dropped and said he hopes the magistrate will be more understanding.