Mexican wolf

Mexican wolf

PHOENIX — A verdict has been rendered for one Peoria man involved in the killing of a Mexican gray wolf in December 2017.

On Nov. 16, an announcement came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Office of Law Enforcement for the Southwest Region that Jason William Kunkel pled guilty to a Class B misdemeanor of the Endangered Species Act for the killing. Kunkel was subsequently sentenced to five years unsupervised probation, as well as, “. . . any hunting activities; (he) 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,” the service wrote in its press release.

The incident occurred while Kunkel and two other men were hunting elk in the Alpine region. Reports indicate that Kunkel failed to follow federal guidelines with regard to shooting the wolf before returning home. An investigation by USFWS Special Agent in Charge Phillip Land found evidence of the crime, including the body of the animal and photos Kunkel had taken posing with the wolf on his personal devices.

“Mexican wolves are one of the most endangered mammals in North America,” Land said. “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.”

Donald Justin Davis, Kunkel's co-defendant in the case, is currently scheduled for a status hearing in Flagstaff in December. USFWS and AZGFD investigated the case, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Camille Bibles, of Flagstaff, prosecuting.

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