If you drive long enough through the mountains and valleys of the western United States, eventually you're going to hit and kill a wild animal with your car.
It usually can't be helped. Of course no sane person wants to run over some poor animal that's decided to run out in front of their car—but nobody wants to flip their car into a ravine in the middle of nowhere while trying to swerve either.
In any case, it's usually not something that people usually brag about—unless there is something very seriously wrong with them. Perhaps like a weird obsession or fixation of some kind.
Toby Bridges of Missoula, Montana, hates wolves with a personal vitriol and aggressiveness that you don't usually see in most people—even other hunters.
In fact, he runs a website and a Facebook page dedicated to hating wolves in the name of supporting "the efforts of all who feel that in order to save wildlife, outdoor recreation and a healthy outdoor lifestyle, sportsmen must fight radical anti-hunting environmental groups and state and federal wildlife agencies which have abandoned those who have financed real wildlife conservation efforts in this country for the past 75 to 100 years."
But it appears that Bridges may have finally gone a bit too far after he actually bragged on his anti-wolf Facebook page that he intentionally struck and killed a pair of young wolves with his minivan as they crossed Interstate 90 near the Montana-Idaho state line.
According to a September 16th post, Bridges claims that a cow elk and her calf ran out onto the interstate near Lookout Pass, and he slowed down in case there were more elk about to cross the roadway.
What followed were two adult wolves. The cow jumped over the concrete barrier seperating(sic) West and East traffic lanes, the calf stayed on "my" side - and both were running up the highway, toward the pass. The wolves went after the calf...and I let off the brake and hit the accelerator. I was going to save that calf.
Bridges then claims that he hit two young wolves, leaving one dead on the side of the road while the other crawled off into the woods with a badly broken leg.
Two wolves out of the equation...and it was all an accident. I love it when things go good.
He even included some (WARNING: GRAPHIC) photographs from the scene, in case his words didn't paint a clear enough picture of what he did:
The problem with calling it "an accident" is that Bridges already admitted stepping on the gas instead of the brakes, making it much less of "an accident" and more like "an entirely on purpose"—and now law enforcement officials say that they are looking into his boasts.
According to the Great Falls Tribune, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Capt. Joseph Jaquith says that they are aware of the Facebook post, and are investigating Bridges' claims to see if they're true.
"Whether or not it's true remains to be seen," said Jaquith, who in a moment of profound understatement added that running down wildlife in a vehicle is illegal in Montana and "very unsporting."
There you have it—running down wildlife with your car is officially considered "very unsporting" in the state of Montana. I suppose like a baseball player stealing second base at gunpoint is "very unsporting."
But wait a second, you may say. Aren't wolves federally protected endangered species? Why aren't the feds crawling all over this case?
Nope. Wolves are no longer their jurisdiction.
In case you may have missed it, wolves are no longer covered by the federal Endangered Species Act, and are instead managed by state wildlife agencies—thanks to a rider attached to the 2011 budget bill by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.
As a result, wolf hunting has increased dramatically across the Northern Rockies and Upper Midwest. According to wildlife conservation organization Predator Defense, over 2,800 wolves have been killed in the U.S. since they were de-listed in 2011. They now estimate that there are less than 7,000 gray wolves left in the lower 48 states.
But even more disturbing is that there now appears to be an online subculture of people like Bridges who seem to get off on killing wolves and other predators.
Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense says that graphic pictures and stories about predators like wolves being purposefully maimed and tortured are popping frequently on social media sites and online forums.
Fahy told the Tribune that wildlife agencies are turning a blind eye to what's happening online.
"This type of vitriol and hatred tends to build if it goes unchallenged," Fahy said. "One thing that's very disconcerting so far in the Northern Rockies — Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming — is we're constantly hearing of animals being intentionally gut-shot, dead wolves being posed in disturbing position for photos. As far as I'm aware, none of these agencies, including Montana, have come out and publicly said, 'this is deplorable; this language is deplorable.'"
So, what's going to happen with Bridges? Likely nothing.
Jaquith says that his department is still trying to determine what, if anything, they can do about a Facebook post with no actual physical evidence of a crime.
He told the Tribune that he will be taking his time with the investigation.
"We're taking a look at it," said Jaquith, who also noted that Bridges has a right to "free speech" online. "We're not turning a blind eye to it."
I guess that at least a cursory investigation would be the sporting thing to do.
Image via Shutterstock