Hunters Charged In Lion Killing

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MITCHELL, S.D. — Two area men are among three hunters charged with illegally using dogs to tree and kill a mountain lion Feb. 1 in Pennington County.

Post a Photo of a Mountain Lion – Picture not included in story

The female lion had two kittens, one of which later died. The other is now in a zoo.

The lion was shot about three miles south of Hill City, S.D., Conservation Officer Blair Waite said.

Acting on a tip from an eyewitness, Waite ticketed James Jucht, 71, of Sioux Falls, S.D., on a charge of shooting the treed lion, and David Terveen, 63, of Emery, S.D., on a charge of aiding and abetting in the shooting.

Pennington County Deputy State’s Attorney Josh Hendrickson said Jucht and Terveen face the same charge, namely “violating the conditions of a big game license.” The big game violations are Class 1 misdemeanors, which can bring up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Both men face a hearing April 19 in Rapid City, S.D., before Seventh Circuit Magistrate Judge Heidi Linngren.

Wade Musick, 41, of Mitchell, was ticketed on a charge of illegally using dogs to hunt lions, a Class 2 misdemeanor that could bring up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine if he is convicted.

Musick is scheduled for an April 10 hearing in Rapid City to discuss the charges.

“It’s a time for him to meet with the state to go over his options,” Henrickson said. “He can enter a plea at that time or ask for a court trial.”

All men were legally licensed hunters.

The use of dogs to hunt mountain lions was allowed this year on an experimental basis, but only within Custer State Park. The lion at issue was shot outside the park boundaries and before the in-park dog hunting season opened, Waite said.

“In Mr. Musick’s defense, he said he was using his dogs to hunt bobcats, which is legal in South Dakota,” he said. “Then this too wants to be banned!”

Waite said Musick was not present when the cat was shot, so he was not charged with aiding and abetting in the alleged crime, but he said Musick admitted his dogs treed the lion.

Waite acknowledged that dogs cannot differentiate between bobcats and mountain lions.

But apparently neither can some people,” he added.

One kitten was found immediately after the lion was killed, and the kitten was taken to a zoo. Waite said the other was trapped about 10 days later but was in such poor condition that it had to be euthanized. The bodies of the female lion and its kitten are being held as evidence.

Mike Kintigh, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks regional supervisor, said 61 mountain lions were taken during the annual harvest that ran from Dec. 26 to March 31. The number was short of the total 100-lion or 70-female limit set for the season. Only 35 female lions were taken. The female lion in question is not part of those harvest numbers at this time, but the lion and kitten will be added to his department’s lion mortality list, which tracks all lion deaths, Kintigh said.

Kintigh said lions are an emotional topic for hunters and conservationists alike, and statistics are tracked by groups nationwide. “How can hunters be as emotional as conservationists & especially animal advocates? They see it as a necessary blood sport”

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WARNING – Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats – Recall

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Another dog treat is being recalled voluntarily.

The US Food and Drug Administration announced the voluntary recall of Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.


The dog treats were sold at 57 Sam’s Club locations in Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

The recall was announced after the FDA tested a sample and found Salmonella present. There have been no reports of animals or humans becoming ill from the treats yet fortunately.

Both humans and dogs are at risk of contracting Salmonella.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection in dogs can be difficult to detect. Dogs may become lethargic, or have diarrhoea, fever and vomiting. If your dog has any of these symptoms and have consumed these treats you should contact your veterinarian for help.

In addition the dog may not have any symptoms, but can act as a carrier leading to infections in humans or other animals that that dog has contact with. In addition humans who handle the treats are at risk for contracting Salmonella.

The specific treats that are being recalled came in a 2.5-pound package. They will have a display UPC bar code of 657263800208 with a BEST BY 091913 DEN” lot date.

If you have purchased these treats you should take the package back to the store you bought it from to get a full refund.

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Push for strong anti-cruelty laws in US state

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(North Dakota, United States) North Dakota has one of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation, and a group is fighting to change that.

The North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty group got together at West Acres Mall today — getting signatures to help change the laws surrounding animal cruelty.

As shoppers strolled the mall, some stopped for food, others for clothes… And hundreds stopped to sign a petition that would make animal cruelty a class C felony rather than just a misdemeanor.

Ed Ahonen said “I have always felt that cruelty to animals has never been followed through, for the prevention, of that sort of thing.” He supports legislation that would ensure animal abusers would walk away with more than a slap on the wrist.

“I feel bad mostly when I read or see some abuse.” North Dakota is only one of two states that does not have this type of legislation. South Dakota is the other. “That tells me they are not taking care of the pets.”

Volunteer Kristie Skunberg says it’s time North Dakota joins the rest of the nation, and make animal cruelty charges more strict for anyone hurting helpless animals.

Kristie Skunberg said “the legislature has failed time and time again to pass a law like this, and actually in the last session they voted down to even research the issue, so we feel that animals dogs, cats, and horses shouldn’t have to wait any longer, that’s why we’ve gone to this process.”

Over 13 thousand signatures are needed to put a animal cruelty measure on the November ballot. “Our goal is about 17 thousand, so we have a little buffer” she said.

If enough signatures are collected the new legislation will allow the people of North Dakota to vote and so far, many people are standing behind the animals. All signatures need to be collected by the first week of August.

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Protect Animals from Extreme Cruelty

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North Dakota is one of only two states in the country that does not have a felony punishment for extreme animal cruelty. Even the harshest forms of animal abuse are punished as a mere misdemeanor in the state.

It’s time for North Dakota to catch up with the rest of the country and turn around its reputation for having one of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation.

North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty is a coalition spearheading a ballot initiative to protect the state’s animals from extreme animal cruelty. The campaign is organizing to fix this problem by making it a Class C felony to engage in some specific forms of aggravated cruelty to dogs, cats, or horses.

Sign the pledge to join North Dakotans and animal lovers across the country in sending a message that it’s time for North Dakota to stand up for its animals. By signing the pledge you will join the North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty effort and receive alerts from the campaign on how to help make this important change for animals.

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SD dog killing case renews animal cruelty debate

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The arrest of an 18-year-old Sioux Falls resident for allegedly killing his mother’s dog is reviving debate about whether South Dakota needs a stronger penalty for animal cruelty.

Injuring or killing an animal and inhumane treatment of animals are misdemeanor counts in South Dakota, and the maximum penalty is a year in jail. The lack of felony penalties makes it “barely even illegal” to mistreat animals in the state, activist Jeni McNamara told the Argus Leader ( newspaper.

It’s less illegal than drunk driving,” she said.

Marcelo Vargas, who his mother says is developmentally disabled, is accused of intentionally beating her Chihuahua to death on Monday night while she was in the hospital and her husband was at work. Vargas allegedly told police officers and his mother that the dog had tried to bite him.

Judge Natalie Damgaard released Vargas from custody Tuesday without requiring the posting of a bond, on the condition that he show up at his court hearings.

The Sioux Falls case follows another high-profile dog killing in South Dakota last year, when Robert Kyte, of Burbank, killed his neighbor’s German shorthair pointer with a hammer. The dog’s owners, Shayne and Kim Ludwig, wanted Kyte charged with a felony. He eventually was _ first-degree intentional damage to property _ because the dog was valued at more than $1,000.

“The only reason that was possible was because that was a prize hunting dog,” McNamara said. “Most dogs aren’t worth that much.”

Kyte reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges. He was given a 60-day suspended jail sentence, and ordered to pay nearly $400 in fines and fees and $2,000 in restitution.

In 2010, then-Rep. Joni Cutler introduced a bill in the South Dakota Legislature that would have created a felony class of animal cruelty laws. She introduced the bill at the request of several of her constituents and eventually voted against it, citing the possibility of unintended consequences. Agriculture interests lobbied against the bill, saying it could be used to punish farmers.

Cutler now says there ought to be a way to write a law that would encompass animal cruelty without endangering agricultural activities. However, national animal rights organizations often clash with agriculture groups when debate over felony penalties arises in the state, she said.

“We should be able to act on behalf of our constituents, but the larger debate takes over,” Cutler said. “Even a very focused bill gets lost in it.”

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Officials kill bear near Hulett, Wyoming

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HULETT, Wyo. — A Moorcroft, Wyo., game warden shot and killed a young black bear near Hulett, Wyo., on Tuesday after determining the animal posed a danger to humans.

Warren Mischke, information specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department office in Sheridan, Wyo., said warden John Davis made the decision to kill the 2-year-old cinnamon-colored black bear because it had killed a sheep and would not leave the area.

While bears are not common in the Black Hills and Wyoming foothills, there have been recent sightings as close as Gillette, said Mischke. He said a bear that had climbed an electric pole along Interstate 90 near Gillette two years ago was tranquilized and returned to the wild.

Game and Fish officers also tranquilized a bear three weeks ago that had wandered into Sheridan, he said.

Mischke said wild animals are tranquilized and moved to another area whenever possible, but officials need to determine what’s best in each different circumstance.

“The way things worked out with this (Hulett) bear, the game warden was able to respond quickly and take appropriate action,” he said. “He needs to be commended for his work.“Commended for killing a bear, how bloody ridiculous, he killed a sentient being that could have been tranquilized & moved away! He should pay for killing it! They are probably hungry because humans have encroached into their domain.”

Mischke said it is difficult for wildlife officials to kill animals, but sometimes there are no other alternatives. “Killing an animal is a hard thing to do but sometimes it’s the only thing to do,” he said. “We never compromise human safety.”

Mischke said while reports of bear sightings are rare, he was not surprised by the timing of the Hulett bear’s appearance.

Bears are particularly active this time of year because they are coming out of hibernation and are hungry and searching for food. The young bear likely had recently left its mother and was searching for new territory, he said.

“They’re attracted to food,” he said. “They’re looking for easy food. They’ll keep coming back to humans if they know that’s where they can get their dinner.”

Mischke said people should avoid problems by doing what they can not to attract wild animals. “Don’t leave garbage around and take care of your barbecue grills,” he said.

He said people would be surprised at the long distances bears and other wildlife, such as mountain lions, can travel in a short amount of time.

His best advice to keep bears away is to not intentionally feed them or leave food outside.

He said the best thing to do if you do encounter a bear or mountain lion is to stand your ground. Never run, he said, because they will chase you.

Mischke said people can back away from a bear if it is not aware of your presence, but he stressed the importance of keeping an eye on the animal to watch its behavior.

“With a bear or mountain lion, you throw things, you yell at them, do what you can to get them to move away,” he said. “Stand your ground.”

Although Mischke said it is “very, very rare” that they would attack a person, people need to defend themselves if a wild animal continues to advance.

“Generally, lions will see a person and leave,” he said. “People should pick up their children to protect them and cause a scene to scare the lion away.

If the lion continues to approach despite those efforts and attacks you, Mischke said to fight with anything you have available, even sticks and rocks.

He advised against feeding deer because they attract mountain lions.

People should especially be on alert this time of year because it is birthing season and mothers will do whatever they need to do to protect their young, he said.

In the Big Horn Mountains, Mischke said they are just as concerned about moose or any other large game the last week of May or first week of June because mothers are so protective.

People also need to be on alert during mating season, he said. “People need to be aware there is potentially dangerous wildlife out there,” said Mischke. If you see a bear or mountain lion it should be reported immediately. In Wyoming, call the stop poaching hotline at 1-877-943-3847. An operator answers calls 24 hours a day, he said.

People can also call game and fish wardens in Sundance, Newcastle or Gillette.

For South Dakota, people can call the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks wildlife division statewide at (605) 773-3387 or local law enforcement.

Mischke said it is legal in Wyoming for landowners to kill a mountain lion or black bear if it is seen attacking animals or livestock. The same law applies in South Dakota.

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Idaho Legislature passes felony animal cruelty law

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Mistreating pets and livestock could result in a felony conviction for the first time in Idaho after the Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would get the state off a very short list of others that don’t impose tough penalties for animal cruelty.

If Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signs the bill next week it would end an annual legislative battle in Idaho and leave the Dakotas as the lone states lacking such provision. The Republican governor has not indicated whether he supports the measure.

Historically averse to animal protection legislation, Senate lawmakers voted 24-11 Thursday to approve the plan, which makes a third animal cruelty conviction in 15 years a felony. It also makes it a felony to organize cockfighting events accompanied by drugs and gambling.

The state House backed the proposal earlier this week.

Animal rights groups, who have threatened to put much stiffer cruelty penalties before voters, lauded lawmakers for passing the bill.

“We couldn’t be happier, because it’s a tremendous step forward for the state,” said Ann Church, vice president of state affairs for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “We hope what happens in Idaho will now happen in North and South Dakota.”

Animal rights groups in Idaho are in the process of collecting nearly 50,000 signatures to put an initiative in front of voters in November asking for even tougher penalties, including first-offense felonies in some instances.

The effort spurred Idaho lawmakers to action, but it appears unlikely to secure enough signatures to trigger a ballot initiative, and some groups have ditched it to support the legislative remedy.

It comes partly in response to instances where some animal owners facing financial difficulties failed to feed or properly care for livestock, including a high-profile case in 2011 involving dozens of starved and neglected sheep, goats, pigs, llamas and horses.

Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, backed the plan on the Senate floor, saying it protects the state’s vital animal production industry by exempting normal practices, such as branding, castration and dehorning.

That compromise earned the plan approval from the livestock industry.

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Republican sheep rancher from eastern Idaho, led opposition against the plan, arguing it would only encourage animal rights activists to seek further protections that imperil the animal production industry.

“As soon as they get done with this, I’m just sure they’re going to be after the standard animal operating practices,” Siddoway said. “These are animal rights extremists that think that animals have the same rights as human beings.”

Brackett said the Senate’s action may not quell all calls for tougher penalties from animal rights activists, but it will provide a shield against future criticisms.

“We will be better able to defend the food industry against those attacks,” Brackett said.

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