Lester Ernest Brothers Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on August 3, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, LESTER ERNEST BROTHERS was sentenced to a term of:
- Probation: 2 years
- Special Assessment: $25
- Community Service: 50 hours
BROTHERS was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Anderson, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
In February 2009, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks received information from BROTHERS' adult son that BROTHERS possessed a wolf hide. A warden visited BROTHERS' residence near Libby and received a consent to search the property from BROTHERS' wife. BROTHERS' son led the warden to a blue tarp on the property covering a salted canid hide which appeared to be that of a gray wolf, which the warden then seized. BROTHERS' son also gave the warden a recent receipt for the purchase of a tanning kit purchased by BROTHERS.
When questioned, BROTHERS and a friend told investigators that they shot a wolf in the Kootenai National Forest in Montana in mid-November 2008 while hunting together. At that time, wolves were still classified as an endangered species. Neither man possessed a license or other authorization allowing them to shoot a wolf. BROTHERS and the other individual gave conflicting accounts as to which of them had shot the animal, but BROTHERS admitted returning to the site a few days after the hunt where he skinned the carcass and took the hide home with the intention of tanning and keeping it.
The seized hide was sent to the Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in July 2009. On August 3, 2009, DNA testing revealed the hide to have come from a North American gray wolf.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.