Two Minnesotans face prison in wolf-killing case

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 19, 2012 - 7:24 PM

Men await sentencing in connection with the 2 killings, which occurred while wolves were an endangered species.

A North Shore man has admitted killing two gray wolves in Minnesota while they were still an endangered species and then conspiring with another man to conceal the crime.

Kyler J. Jensen, 31, of Silver Bay, pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Minneapolis to two counts of violating the federal Endangered Species Act, which applied to gray wolves until they were removed from the protected list in January.

Vernon L. Hoff, 55, of Finland, Minn., was convicted by a federal jury on Friday of lying to authorities about the wolves being killed in February 2010 in Minnesota's Superior National Forest.

The wolves' delisting allowed the Minnesota Legislature to approve a wolf hunting season. Almost 150 wolves had been killed as the early portion of the state's first-ever regulated wolf hunt closed Sunday night, the state Department of Natural Resources reported. The DNR had set a limit of 200 wolves that could be killed during the first portion of a two-part season.

A grand jury this summer ruled that Jensen concealed the killings by moving and burying the carcasses. Jensen killed the wolves on Forest Road 369 (Sawbill Landing Road) and moved them to a work site, where he dug a hole with a bulldozer and buried the animals. He later dug up the bodies, intending to destroy the evidence.

Hoff was accused of lying to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer when he denied speaking on the phone with Jensen about the dead wolves. And Jensen allegedly lied to an officer by denying he had buried the animals.

Jensen and Hoff each face up to six months in prison on each of the two counts of violating the federal Endangered Species Act. Hoff also faces up to five years in prison for making a false statement to a federal official.

Their sentencings have yet to be scheduled.

Jensen has had many minor scrapes with the law over the past 11 years, most involving driving violations, drugs and alcohol.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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