Press Release

Dr Jim Keen, Veterinarian and Rancher, Calls on State of Wyoming to Revamp Wolf Policies or Face Federal Takeover of Wolf Management

Torture of the young adolescent female wolf was ‘remorseless’ and violated a ‘solemn responsibility,’ Dr. Keen tells Wyoming Game and Fish Commission at today’s hearing.

Cheyenne, WY — Dr. Jim Keen, DVM, Ph.D., urged commissioners with the Game and Fish Commission to revamp the state’s archaic, counterproductive wolf-killing policies and adopt a responsible management plan.  He predicts that the federal government will reclaim management authority for wolves in the absence of common sense and rational wolf treatment policies in Wyoming. 

Dr. Keen, director of veterinary science for the Center for a Humane Economy and a rancher who lives on a homestead property operated by his family for 140 years, testified today in Riverton and called on the commissioners to lead efforts to change state wolf policies, in the wake of Cody Roberts running down a wolf with a snowmobile, taking her captive, and then tormenting her and putting her on display.

After running her down, Roberts took the wolf, posthumously named Theia by animal-welfare groups, into his possession, bound her mouth with tape, put a shock collar on her, and tormented her for the amusement of himself and others at the Green River Bar in Daniels, Wyo. Reports say he then took the animal behind the bar and shot her to death.

Dr. Keen’s testimony says in summary:

  • The wolf-killing episode in Sublette County was inexcusable and even pathological.
  • The severely injured, dying wolf was in a state of extreme distress during a period of forced captivity and almost certainly suffered internal injuries after being run over and crushed by a large snowmobile.
  • A complete veterinary forensic investigation should be conducted to fortify an unambiguous case of cruelty to animals.
  • Wyoming must reform its wolf and “predator zone” management (killing) policies or else defer to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. States lose their rights when they obviously mismanage their responsibilities.

“As a veterinarian, I was disgusted by the cruelty and inhumanity exhibited by Cody Roberts towards a young female wild wolf. It takes no bravery or ability to run down a young female wolf with a 600-pound snowmobile. It only takes a remorseless person who does not understand rural values and notions about the proper treatment of animals,” Dr. Keen said in his testimony. “Rural people know animals, and this is no way to handle a solemn responsibility to treat all animals with respect and to exhibit best practices on animal care.”

“The structure of the existing no-holds-barred approach to wolf killing actually poses a threat to hunting and ranching,” Dr. Keen added. “Wyoming has perhaps the highest prevalence of Chronic Wasting Disease in its deer and elk — an infectious disease I’ve studied — and CWD is the greatest threat to Wyoming deer and elk hunters. Wyoming’s wolves and mountain lions selectively target and kill CWD-infected deer and elk, helping to keep these herds healthy.”

“Wolves are the antidote to CWD. What’s more, extreme and heavy exploitation of Indiscriminate killing of wolves increases livestock depredations by disrupting their social structures,” concluded the former USDA researcher. “Heavy taking of wolves reduces pack sizes, making it more difficult to kill traditional prey, such as elk or moose. This drives these small packs to opt for less traditional prey, such as sheep or calves.”

His full prepared remarks can be read here.

The Center for a Humane Economy is offering a $15,000 reward to any individual who provides additional evidence to police and prosecutors about Roberts that results in his being sentenced to at least one year in prison for his appalling abuse of the young, female wolf.

Individuals with such information can contact The reward will be divided proportionately among tipsters if multiple people step forward with reliable information.

Last week, the Center for a Humane Economy and Animal Wellness Action issued a legal analysis detailing that no legal exemption shields Roberts from being charged under the state’s animal cruelty statute, which allows for felony-level penalties.

Sublette County authorities have opened a case, and key information about Roberts’ actions have been shared with law enforcement. One source shared photo with a Wyoming news outlet in which Roberts is posing with the bound, defeated animal while holding what appears to be a can of beer. Other sources provided video of the grievously injured animal unable to move at a bar. The Center for a Humane Economy has compiled some of these images in a short video that was released yesterday.

Dozens of people have contacted the animal welfare groups with offers to support their efforts to have charges brought against Roberts. John M. Barr, an attorney in Richmond, Va., is one of those people, and his donation was made specifically to create this reward.

“As an attorney, the rule of law matters to me and the law says ‘no!’ to animal torture,” Barr said. “It broke my heart to see the suffering in the eyes of that young pup with her mouth taped shut to muffle her cries of agony. Theia may be silenced, but I have a moral obligation to help encourage others to speak on her behalf.”

“I am grateful to Mr. Barr for caring enough to reward citizens who share details of a crime that shocks the conscience,” Pacelle said. “He’s not alone in wanting justice delivered and meaningful penalties meted out.”

In addition to demanding a successful prosecution of Roberts, the Center is also calling for four meaningful reforms for wolves:

  1. Ban the use of snowmobiles to run down and crush animals.
  2. Abolish the “predator zone” where wolves can be wrongly killed.
  3. Prohibit the use of hunting dogs.
  4. Ban the use of wire snares and steel-jawed leghold traps. 

Earlier this week, Animal Wellness Action, a sister organization to the Center, issued a $2,000 reward to Oklahoma City resident Sarah Looney. She provided police with information that led to the arrest of Larry McMillian, who had been caught on a surveillance camera stomping on and killing a puppy. More can be read here. He was charged with cruelty to animals and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @TheHumaneCenter

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News