Galena, Ill. — Two area men face misdemeanor charges in Jo
Daviess County for allegedly shooting gray wolves, which are
protected as a “threatened species” under state law, said County
State’s Attorney Terry Kurt.
Both alleged crimes took place
on separate occasions last year in the southeastern part of the
county. Charged were Jason Bourrette of Hanover and James Collachia
of Fulton. Bourrette allegedly shot a wolf on Feb. 23, 2011, and
charges were filed on Dec. 27, 2011. Collachia is accused of
shooting a wolf on Nov. 19, 2011, and charges were filed against him
on Jan. 18, 2012.
According to Kurt, both men are charged
with unlawful taking of an Illinois threatened species, which is a
Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum fine of $2,500
and/or a 364-day jail sentence. The charges were filed after
witnesses to the shootings contacted authorities.
his office decided to issue a news release on these cases because of
the rarity of this type of crime.
“It was odd that we had
two (of these cases),” Kurt said. “We thought we should comment on
it.” The law does allow for the shooting of wolves under special
circumstances, such as a resident who is using “reasonable force” to
defend his property, Kurt said. These two cases do not qualify for
such an exemption.
Kurt added that there is a clear
difference between a wolf and a coyote, and that if hunters are not
sure, they should not shoot the animal.
“Everyone says, ‘I
thought it was a coyote,’ but the differences between a wolf and a
coyote are quite clear, and anyone who is not sure, should not be
attempting to kill the animal,” Kurt said in a news release issued
by his office.
Each year, the Illinois Department of Natural
Resources publishes Hunting and Trapping Regulations, the news
release states. On page 28 of this year’s guide is an article called
“Don’t Shoot a Wolf!” that contains clear information about the
differences between coyotes and wolves, the release states.
Last month, new guidelines went into effect
that removed federal Endangered Species Act protection for gray
wolves in portions of the Midwest, including north of I-80 in
Illinois. Even so, gray wolves are still covered by the Illinois
Endangered Species Protection Act throughout the state, so the
partial removal of federal protection in Illinois has no effect on
the animal’s status here, said IDNR officials. While it is rare
for hunters and trappers in Illinois to come across gray wolves, it
has occurred. Joe Kath, endangered species manager for the IDNR, has
said that occasionally young male wolves from Wisconsin will
disperse from their packs and try to establish new packs elsewhere,
sometimes in northern Illinois.
for the two men charged in Jo Daviess County, Bourrette has a
follow-up hearing on March 1 and Collachia has a hearing set for
March 7, Kurt said.
Collachia does not have an attorney at this
time, but Bourrette is being represented by attorney Thomas Nack.
Nack was unavailable for comment.
Illinois citizens who encounter
a wolf in the wild should contact the IDNR at (217) 782-6302. Wolves
resemble coyotes, but are taller, heavier, and have other
characteristics that set them apart.
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