The picture in question, with Bransford and the trapped wolf

Trapper Josh Bransford has created quite the controversy for himself and the hunting and trapping community as a whole. Earlier in March, Bransford, a fire management officer from Idaho, posted a photo and a story on the hunting and trapping website The photo appears to show a living male wolf restrained in a trap, with a large amount of blood on the ground as Bransford appears to smile in the foreground. While wolf trapping and hunting is legal in Idaho, the controversy comes from the fact that the animal is still alive and may be suffering. Many groups are calling for an investigation, and possibly prosecution, including the Center for Biological Diversity, which has requested that the Idaho Attorney General investigate the matter. However, no charges have been filed against Mr. Bransford at this time.

According to state officials, Mr. Bransford had met all the necessary conditions to legally hunt or trap wolves. This means that he participated in a mandatory state class on wolf trapping, had permission to trap on the land, and Mr. Bransford had the necessary permits to trap wolves. In their brief investigation, state conservation officers found no immediate wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Bransford. However the assertion that Mr. Bransford is innocent has been challenged by environmental and animals’ rights groups which believe that in posing with what appears to be an injured animal, Mr. Bransford is in violation of Title 25, Chapter 35 of the Idaho Code, which prohibits animal cruelty. These claims may or may not have any validity given the small amount of actual evidence that is available at this time.

I contacted a respected professional trapper who has worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service who agreed to speak with me on condition of anonymity, who I will refer to as John. When I showed him the picture, the first thing that he said was that “these types of traps are not meant to wound the animal, they are simply meant to hold the animal in one place,” adding that “these are not the vicious traps you see on television and in the movies with sharp teeth that snap and hurt the animal.”  John went on to say that “in the past traps didn’t account for the suffering of the animal, and they  cut off the circulation to limbs, which would then lead to animals trying to chew off their own limbs. This also happens when an oversized trap is used but in this photo it appears he used the correct size trap so it would not be responsible for torn limbs.” When I asked him where the apparent blood in the photograph came from he was not exactly sure. He said that “I am almost certain that that blood is not from the trap, and barring any extra human influence my best guess is that the blood may have been from the wolf’s mouth as he tried to chew on the trap or trap chain.”

In conclusion, John said that “Any trapper will tell you that they want to be as humane as possible and inflict the least suffering on animals. Trappers are more humane than ever before due to the amount of money invested into scientific studies. When I trap an animal I dispatch it immediately upon discovery so that it does not suffer, or escape injured.”

Idaho has laws that make it a crime for any individual who “causes or procures any animal to be cruelly treated, or who, having the charge or custody of any animal either as owner or otherwise, subjects any animal to cruelty.”  This situation has inflamed the already fragile relations between hunters, environmentalists, and animals’ rights groups which have been deeply divided over the 2011 USFWS services decision to remove many wolf populations from the endangered species list.

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20 thoughts on “Image of Trapped Wolf Causing Controversy in the Outdoor Community and Beyond

  1. Regarding the trapped wolf
    I think this is cruel to trap an animal like a wolf or any animal for that matter. I believe it is a lot more awesome to see a wolf in the wild in his natural state than to see the animal in this trapped condition. I am a hunter and have hunted deer and grouse in northeastern Minnesota all my life and have seen wolves several times while hunting grouse.  It is rare that a person gets to see a wolf in the wild.  I am all for protecting wolves with the allowance to humanely dispatch any animal that may be preying upon livestock or pose a threat to people.

  2. I am ok with the fact of trapping the animal, but out of respect for the wolf it shoud have been dispatched and then you can take the picture. We as hunters/trappers have a duty to cleanly kill the animal as soon as possible. You are just adding fuel to the anti’s fire by doing this

  3. I have no problem at all with trapping and hunting but it would have been much smarter to kill this animal before taking pictures. He has given anti-hunting and trapping folks a lot of ammunition which is sad. We don’t need that. It appears that his pride (desire to be recognized in some way) has superceded his thoughtfulness.

    1. By hiding all we do and the reality of the process of hunting or trapping an animal only gives the anti’s even more ammo because it makes it even more foreign to the majority who are the voters.  It would be wiser to constantly spread the word of science based wildlife management and how it is accomplished. 

  4. “Bransford appears to smile” Looks like he’s smiling to me. This guy is a complete cretin and should be drop kicked firmly in the crotch.

    “These claims may or may not have any validity given the small amount of actual evidence that is available at this time.”

    And whoever spoke/wrote these words should be flogged in the town square.

    While trapping may indeed be legal there is NEVER a justifiable reason for demeaning a creature as is done in this photo.

    1. No matter what there will be a period of time between the animal being trapped and to when the trapper kills the animal.  Does a couple seconds to take a picture matter or would it be better to take the picture after the wolf is dead and strung up?  A trophy considering all the calves lives that have been saved.

  5. Why would you trap an animal as large as these wolves? You would not trap a deer in that manner or an elk… the wolves are 200+lbs and regardless if the trap was meant to restrain or not, as much moving as that wolf probably  did, I can see it tearing flesh off of it’s leg and bleeding like that. trapping anything over 50-60lbs should not be allowed. Hunt the animal like we are supposed too. Trapping to me is lazy.

    1. Have you never heard of a bear trap? Lazy? You should go follow along with a trapper sometime, you’d think very differently.

  6. well i haven´t hunt before but i really think that you have to respect the animal,how long that animal has been there have you guys figure that; and is he going to eat it ? what is he going to do with the animal. he has to be an ass hole

    1. Antonio you need to research the history of the reestablishment of wolves in Yellowstone, how they spread, and the damage they’ve done. It has only become legal recently for some states to apply science based wildlife management towards the wolves which requires reducing their population, to include trapping.

  7. The wolf should have killed as soon as the trapper found it. He used terrible judgement in having this photo taken.  Just another log on the fire for antitrapping and antihunting folks. If you are going to hunt and trap, use your head.  Social media is here to stay and using it to publicize
    a picture like this is foolish.

    1. It might be even better to keep the general population in the loop of what actually takes place while hunting, fishing, and tarpping or one day it might be animal cruelty to put a hook through a worm to fish with.

  8. I don’t see a problem with the photo.  Only takes a few seconds to snap a picture and the wolf could have been in the trap 24hrs before the trapper got to the trap.  Good job trapping a fine looking animal.  I do agree we need to keep these types of pictures to ourselves and close friends.  Anti’s page through our hunting sites all the time looking for stuff like this.

  9. Being a past trapper, and am still an outdoors person, will hold my comments as I do not know the whole story of this photo. Trapping done correctly is humane and one of the best ways to manage many animals. Also what is not shown is how many sheep, cattle or other domestic animals did this wolf cripple or kill prior to being trapped. Not to mention wildlife eaten.
    Joe Becker

  10. I’ve hunted since I was seven using my great grandfathers 22 and a 160 year old bow and arrow.  Our family lived for four generations in the Oregon wilderness off wildlife we respected, and to this day, our family still holds title to the original family land grant never broken til now. w Very clear evidence in the wilderness reflects natural balance is the lack of wasted food in the wild.  The lack of abstract thought which culls wildlife population contols is obvious. Human intervention proposes needs but ignores the natural balance of nature on all levels.  Virtually all modern day trappers, so called progressive state and federal wildlife management officers and ranger professions, fall way behind a curve of knowledge held by the original pioneers.  The resultant “culling” of any wildlife species is due directly to the effects of human consumption and development of former wilderness. Its unfortunate the original native American’s couldn’t “cull ” the invading hoards of Anglo-Saxon’s who brought disease and the invention of “money” that caused extinction of the buffalo and many other species. Maybe God will eventually “cull’ some of you great white “trappers” out of the formula and allow the original inhabitants of this great continent to restore the natural balance  God intended.  Yes I’m native American and so were all my ancestors. 

    Anyone who places a photo of themselves in front of a wounded animal, posts it on the web has a really sick , self heroic delusional image between their ears. As for the “professional assessment” of ” humane traps ?!  You both need a lesson in real survival skills and implementation into honest research to justify whatever you are being paid.
    What a pile of bile.

    I suggest you go see the movie “The Grey” so you can grow up.

    Turkey Two Feathers / Oregon

  11. Wern’t many animals reintroduced into the wild via trapping?   Most traps aren’t designed to harm the animal, only hold them in place.  Thats not saying the animal won’t chew its leg off to escape.  Being a hunter, I have no problem with trapping.  Not my cup of tea though.

  12. My business is my life so I always make sure that it’s running smoothly and with great efficiency. Enable for me to provide my customers great service. So i only trusted spirax sarco steam traps because it lower my cost when it comes to the maintenance of my facility. Good thing I have this in my business.

  13. My initial reaction to this photo told me
    that it would be controversial so I decided that I needed to research the story
    behind the photo. The story that seems to be the only one out is that the trap
    had been set the evening prior and the subsequent morning the wolf was spotted
    by an opportunist who took a shot at the wolf and then realized that it was
    caught in the trap so he drove off. The shot that was taken hit the wolf in the
    hindquarter. This wound, from the shot, is the reason that the wolf lost so
    much blood thus leaving a bloody patch on the snow. When you take the class
    that allows you to trap wolves in the state of Idaho you are advised to not
    take any photos of a trapped wolf. The reasoning behind this advice stems from
    the Idaho Department of Fish and Game not wanting the public to really get
    photos of wolves being harvested, as they remain so controversial. There are
    many people who are against the harvest of wolves in general so doing so in
    such a public fashion is looked down upon.

    In response to “Jwwarden” I couldn’t
    agree more. I am not against trapping or the harvest of wolves, which, actually
    I am certainly an advocate for as I am an avid hunter. I understand the enjoyment
    of documenting a successful harvest on a cunning animal such as a wolf but I
    can not understand why you would post a picture of a live and trapped wolf on
    any social website. Posting photos of this nature only provide the individuals
    that are anti-hunting more leverage against us who enjoy the sport of
    harvesting animals.

  14. Pretty sad to see. I think the trapping of wildlife is not humane. I recently read an article, written by the trapper herself, in Maine whom upon discovering a bear caught in her trap for two days was finally shot. You should have seen the destruction the bear caused trying to free itself. Not to mention the suffering of the animal over two days. She seemed pleased to be able to describe the “death howl” the bear made when she shot it with her 44 Mag revolver in the head. Wow! Is this sport or abuse of wildlife for one’s own self fulfillment?

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