Two Finland, Minnesota, Men Indicted For Allegedly Killing Two Wolves And Lying To Investigators
MINNEAPOLIS—Recently, two men from the northern Minnesota community of Finland were federally indicted for allegedly killing two gray wolves, burying them in the Superior National Forest, and then lying to federal investigators about the incident. On July 16, 2012, Vernon Lee Hoff, age 54, and Kyler James Jensen, age 31, were charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, one misdemeanor count of violation of the Endangered Species Act, and one felony count of making false statements to a federal officer. In addition, Jensen was charged with a second violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The indictment alleges that on February 17, 2010, after Jensen purposely killed the wolves with his vehicle, he and Hoff conspired over the phone to transport the carcasses to the Superior National Forest for burial. After the call, Jensen purportedly loaded the two gray wolves into his vehicle, traveled to the Superior National Forest, and buried them with the use of a bulldozer. At the time, the gray wolf was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. It was removed from that list in Minnesota in January of 2012.
The indictment also alleges that Hoff lied to United States Fish & Wildlife Service officials when asked whether he spoke to Jensen about transporting the wolf carcasses. For his part, Jensen reportedly lied to Fish & Wildlife officials by denying he had buried the carcasses in the Superior National Forest.
If convicted, both men face a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison for making a false statement to a federal official and one year on each of the remaining charges. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.
This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura M. Provinzino.
An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.