BUTTE – A Reed Point man today admitted to and was sentenced for unlawfully using strychnine in a manner inconsistent with its labeling to poison a wolf on a ranch near Ennis, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Jeffrey Scott Wood, 49, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with unlawful use of a registered pesticide, a misdemeanor, and was ordered to pay a $500 fine and to pay $1,000 restitution to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided.
“Misusing strychnine to lace a cow carcass to kill predators is a violation of federal law that results in the indiscriminate killing of all kinds of animals, large and small, wild and domestic, common and endangered. Wood not only killed a wolf, but he also likely killed a pet dog and probably countless other smaller birds and mammals. This office will continue to prosecute this kind of unlawful and irresponsible use of registered pesticides to the fullest extent of federal law. I want to thank Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon and the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for investigating and prosecuting this case,” Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson said.
The government alleged in court documents that in October 2019, Wood unlawfully used a registered pesticide, strychnine, in a manner inconsistent with its labeling to poison a wolf on the Sun Ranch, near Ennis. An investigation into the death of the wolf determined that the wolf had ingested strychnine oats rolled in meat, which appeared to have been placed beside a previously dead cow. A ranch employee had shot the cow because it was sick and not from it being poisoned. A necropsy of the wolf found grains containing strychnine in its stomach and intestines and that the grains were the likely cause of death. A ranch employee’s dog also was suspected of dying from ingesting the strychnine.
The government further alleged that law enforcement learned Wood had called a witness and said to “play stupid” if anyone asked questions about the dead wolf. Wood explained that he placed the poison around the cow carcass because he saw a grizzly sow and two cubs nearby. Wood initially denied to investigators that he had any involvement in the wolf’s death, then admitted he put out the poison to kill wolves—not grizzly bears. Wood admitted it was wrong to use the poison to kill wolves and was aware he could not put strychnine oats in meat.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Office of Law Enforcement and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks law enforcement.