State game reps say man who chased wolf with car, shot it should face harsher punishment

SEATTLE (AP) — Conservationists and state game officials say a prosecutor in Eastern Washington is going too easy on a man who chased a protected gray wolf with his car, then shot and killed the animal.

Jonathan M. Rasmussen killed the wolf in Whitman County last October. State wildlife officials said the wolf posed no threat.

Wolves are endangered under Washington state law, and killing them can bring a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. But Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said this week that if Rasmussen pays $100 and doesn't commit other fish or game violations for six months, a misdemeanor charge against him will be dismissed.

Capt. Dan Rahn, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police, said Tuesday he expected more. Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest, says it sends a terrible signal that it's OK to kill wolves.