Troy A. Portis
Two men were charged Sunday for the killing and disposing of a black wolf found on Thane Road last month.
The Alaska State Troopers received a tip from a confidential informant that led to officials charging Troy A. Portis, 34, and Patrick Peterson, 49, both of Juneau, with crimes associated with the animal's death, said Steve Hall, a sergeant with the troopers' Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement.
Portis is charged with taking a wolf when the season is closed, failing to salvage the animal's hide and unlawful possession and transportation of the animal. Peterson is charged with unlawful possession and transportation of game.
All are misdemeanor charges and can carry a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of one year in jail. The two men also can lose their hunting privileges and any firearms used in the incident can be confiscated.
Peterson and Portis are scheduled to appear in court Sept. 7.
Both suspects were unreachable by phone. Peterson told local radio station KINY that Portis did not realize the season was closed when he shot the wolf, and out of panic, he discarded the carcass.
The shooting occurred on July 16 near Glacier Creek at Taku Inlet, according to state troopers.
Though similar in appearance, officials at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game investigating the case said the slain animal is most likely not "Romeo," a local celebrity wolf often spotted trekking across a frozen Mendenhall Lake in the winter and playing with dogs accompanied by hikers.
The department has received a report of a black wolf sighting in the Mendenhall Valley since the slain animal was found last month, said Doug Larsen, Southeast regional supervisor for the Division of Wildlife Conservation.
Hair samples collected from the slain wolf and from the wolf that frequents the Mendenhall Lake area are being analyzed for a DNA match, but results will not be known for several months, Larsen said.
"Even without the DNA results, we feel confident that the wolf in Thane was a different animal," he added.
The way the animal was disposed was the most unusual aspect of the case, Larsen said.
"Normally, you don't find a dead animal killed by humans lying on the road," he added.
The wolf was fatally shot three times and its throat was slit, according to the department.
Alaska Sled Dog Tours and a separate group of Juneau residents were pledging a combined $9,000 for information leading to the prosecution of the wolf-killers. That offer still holds, whether or not the wolf was Romeo. But neither group has heard from troopers about the source of the tip.
"We're a little bit in the dark about it," said Joel Bennett, one of the group members. "We're really pleased if the reward was the catalyst for the person coming forward.
"(The pledges) just reflect how much people care about local wildlife here," he said. "I think there was this undercurrent of outrage that something that valuable could be snuffed out by some clueless person."
* Andrew Petty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org