A Kelly resident and big game hunting guide who illegally shot and killed a wolf in Grand Teton National Park last winter is being allowed to commercially outfit hunters without interruption.
Meeting Aug. 26, the Wyoming State Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides unanimously decided to issue Gros Ventre Wilderness Outfitters owner Brian Taylor a one-year conditional outfitters license.
That was the recommended penalty proposed by a three-person investigative committee, said Amanda McKee, executive director of the outfitters board.
“The board as a whole voted to accept the committee’s recommendation,” McKee said.
The seven-person board, she said, voted unanimously, although members who were part of the investigation recused themselves from the vote.
The outfitters board made its decision ahead of the 2019 big game seasons on Bridger-Teton National Forest land where Taylor guides, which started for bow hunters Sept. 1 and rifle hunters Sept. 15.
Reached over the weekend, Taylor said he was eager to put his misstep with the law in the past.
“A regrettable mistake was made that I have been accountable for from the beginning,” he said.
“The authorities from federal, state and local agencies and organizations have been very professional throughout the entire process,” Taylor said. “I believe all involved are ready to put this matter to rest.”
Apart from the licensing probation, Taylor pleaded guilty to unlawful take of wildlife, was fined $5,040, lost his wolf hunting privileges for a year and earned a year of probation.
The Dec. 31 incident that got Taylor into trouble occurred on the closing day of the 2018 wolf hunting season, while Grand Teton rangers were furloughed due to the federal government shutdown. The Jackson Hole born-and-raised guide was hunting with his family near the jagged park boundary in the Spread Creek area when, he said, he mistook his whereabouts by 2 miles, entering the park when he thought he was exiting it.
He tracked a wolf pack that had been feeding on a bison hunter’s left-behind gut pile, and closed to within 200 yards when his .30-06 ended the life of a gray female wolf from the Lower Gros Ventre Pack.
Park ranger Nick Armitage caught Taylor by following his tracks, and the dead wolf’s drag trail, through the snow.
Taylor is an avid wolf hunter, and he’s also been vocal opponent of the species.
One activist group that has kept tabs on the outcome of the Grand Teton National Park wolf poaching was “incredibly disappointed” with the Wyoming State Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides’ decision.
“By issuing such a nominal punishment to Mr. Taylor, Wyoming has set an outrageous and dangerous precedent,” the Humane Society of the United States’ native carnivore protection strategist, Wendy Keefover, said in a statement. “The state’s outfitter board has signaled that poaching wildlife on a national park in Wyoming is worthy of nothing more than a slap on the wrist.”
Taylor was, and still is listed as a board member of the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association.