Daniel man causes outrage after capturing, torturing live wolf

By Cali O’Hare, Pinedale Roundup Via Wyoming News Exchange
Posted 4/16/24

PINEDALE — Although the news of Cody Roberts capturing and torturing a live wolf by running it down on his snowmobile and binding its mouth shut before killing it in Daniel has captivated the …

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Daniel man causes outrage after capturing, torturing live wolf


PINEDALE — Although the news of Cody Roberts capturing and torturing a live wolf by running it down on his snowmobile and binding its mouth shut before killing it in Daniel has captivated the world, it started as a simple citation listed in the March 7 Sublette County Circuit Court roundup.

Game and Fish quietly investigated the incident on March 1 but did not publicize what happened.

Five days after he was cited, Roberts paid a $250 fine for violating statute 23-3-402(839), “regarding live wildlife or exotic animals, CH 10.”

For comparison, a minor in possession of alcohol paid a larger court fine that week than Roberts did, and Roberts wasn’t even required to appear.

Not even Sublette County Sheriff KC Lehr knew what had occurred on Feb. 29 until recently.

Roberts’ case was marked “closed” in circuit court, but the shockwaves are far from over.


A picture worth a thousand words

As Sublette County residents wondered what Roberts, known locally as an avid hunter who keeps a kennel of dogs trained to hunt mountain lions, could have had in his possession, the small town rumor mill churned out a photograph that would capture the world’s attention as one of the most horrid examples of the hatred toward and politicization of wolves.

The image depicts Roberts in what appears to be the mudroom of his residence, surrounded by pairs of discarded boots, shoes and jackets, along with a bag of dog food. He’s grinning from ear to ear, holding a beer in one hand with his other arm wrapped firmly around the neck of a female yearling wolf.

In the image, the wolf is still alive, her mouth tightly bound shut with red duct tape as she stares dejectedly at the tile floor beneath her gray paws.

Some media outlets reported the photograph was taken inside the Green River Bar (GRB) in Daniel, but upon inspection, the Pinedale Roundup believes it was more than likely taken inside Roberts’ home in Daniel.

The identity of the photographer is not known, but the man in the photo is undoubtedly the 42-year-old Cody Roberts.

The photo was leaked anonymously to Cowboy State Daily who agreed to share it with the Pinedale Roundup.

Although this particular photo was not taken inside the GRB, Roberts did take the live wolf, in terrible condition, inside the bar with patrons present, according to anonymous witnesses interviewed by Cowboy State Daily.

Game and Fish spokeswoman Breanna Ball told KHOL Jackson Hole Community Radio that Roberts had been hunting when he came across the wolf in the “predator zone,” an area where wolves can legally be run down with a snowmobile and killed.

But instead of dispatching the wolf after immobilizing it, Roberts transported it alive to his home and then to the GRB while reportedly torturing it and eventually killing it — actions that former friends of Roberts have described to this newspaper editor as “psychopathic.”


Outrage from all sides

While out of town on spring break vacation, Roberts, a husband, father of four, owner of C Roberts Trucking, a former volunteer firefighter with the Daniel Fire Company, and friend of many, found his actions being scrutinized not just by residents, ranchers, hunters, recreationists and wildlife advocates in Sublette County, but across the globe.

His wife and children have deactivated their social media accounts and removed their contact information from most public platforms after their home addresses and phone numbers were leaked.

Meanwhile, Roberts’ uncle, Shane Roberts, offered support for his nephew on Facebook in a post suggesting his nephew was drunk when he ran down a wild wolf on his snowmobile, brought it home and tortured it.

“Alcohol may have been involved. Not a better person than Cody,” he wrote on Facebook.

In either a show of support for her nephew or an attempt to mock the people outraged over her nephew’s treatment of the creature, Roberts’ aunt, Jeanne Ivie Robert, — a bartender at the GRB — wrapped herself in what appears to be a wolf’s pelt, put duct tape over her mouth and posed for a photo inside the GRB for a new Facebook profile picture.

Although Roberts appeared pleased enough with his catch to pose with it in at least one photo, he’s chosen to stay silent for now.

The Pinedale Roundup repeatedly reached out to Roberts on his personal cell phone and at his work beginning on April 1 for his side of the story, but as of press time, he has not responded.

Likewise, the Roundup repeatedly reached out to Green River Bar owner Nan McKeough, whose establishment was dragged into controversy after Roberts brought the wolf there and reportedly shot it behind the bar.  She did not respond.

The Roundup also reached out to Jeanne Ivie Roberts about the photos she posted but did not receive a response.

Few have publicly voiced support for Roberts.

In a comment to Facebook, Melissa Berger wrote, “Hoping there is another story than what I’ve been reading ... Cody is such a good guy I’m hoping whoever told the reporters was missing some major details.”

Barbara Bain wrote to the Roundup’s Facebook, “If this is true, it is cruel and inhumane. He is a friend and family man who made a mistake. Everybody has made mistakes and used poor judgment.”

Although Lehr would not comment on the case to the Pinedale Roundup, he previously told WyoFile that the incident hurts Wyoming’s case for managing controversial large animals.

“With wolves, with brown bears, this definitely could set the state back,” he said. “It already has. I’ve taken calls from New York, New Jersey, Colorado…”

Lehr told WyoFile that as a person he was aghast by the alleged details of the incident.

“… If it did go to that extreme, not as a sheriff but as a hunter, as a resident of Sublette County, I find those actions very disturbing and unethical,” he said.

Additional prosecution of Roberts is unlikely, Lehr told WyoFile, because the current statutes mainly apply to household domestic animals and livestock. There’s even a clause in the animal cruelty laws that states they shall not prohibit the “hunting, capture, killing or destruction of any predatory animal or other wildlife in any manner not otherwise prohibited by law.”

He told WyoFile, “I’m looking at (whether there can be additional charges) right now in consultation with our county attorney … to see if animal cruelty would apply.”

Sublette County Attorney Clayton Melinkovich declined to comment to the Roundup, saying only, “In my review of the statutes regarding animals, conduct that is prohibited under the animal abuse statutes may apply to predators in certain circumstances. That being said, I cannot comment about investigations in Sublette County or whether or not an investigation has occurred or will or will not occur.”

Other lawyers believe felony animal cruelty charges are possible.

A multitude of petitions are posted online; one demanding felony animal cruelty charges against Roberts had obtained 67,656 signatures as of press time.

At least five other petitions are circulating on the internet, each one calling for Roberts to face a different type of consequence for his reported torture of the live wolf.

Some people are drafting legislation to once again try to outlaw the practice of using snowmobiles to run down predators like wolves and coyotes.

In separate statements, Gov. Mark Gordon, along with Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvick and numerous other officials and organizations, condemned Roberts’ actions, but at the time of this report, no additional charges have been brought against Roberts.