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Court Scraps Endangered Species Killing Loophole

posted Sep 4, 2017, 8:18 PM by chloe owens

6/23/17, by Chris Clarke, KCET

Court Scraps Endangered Species Killing Loophole

…Against the advice of his friend Dusty Steinmasel, who had just helped him free a stuck pickup, McKittrick shot #10. (Steinmasel would later testify that he'd suggested #10 might be "somebody's dog," and that McKittrick had said "That's a wolf, Dusty. I'm going to shoot it.")… In the 18 years since, the McKittrick Rule has also come to be known as the “I thought it was a coyote” rule. It’s routinely invoked by shooters who kill wolves, a recent notable example being the untimely end of “Echo,” the first gray wolf to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in more than 70 years. A Utah hunter shot Echo in 2014, then invoked the McKittrick Rule and thereby escaped prosecution…By 2013, shootings of at least 48 Endangered Mexican wolves had gone un-prosecuted under the McKittrick Rule; illegal killings account for more than half the Mexican wolf deaths in the United States. The rule has also shielded killers of California condors, whooping cranes, and grizzly bears from Endangered Species Act penalties. “The end of the McKittrick Policy is a crucial victory for critically imperiled animals including Mexican wolves and grizzly bears,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “Wildlife killers who are either profoundly careless or worse, who intentionally target protected animals, no longer have a get-out-of-jail-free card by claiming they did not know the identity of the animals they kill.”