Man charged with many wildlife crimes after ex-wife’s tip to officials

A Wyoming man accused of killing two grizzly bears and illegally collecting grizzly claws, golden and bald eagle talons and feathers, and bighorn sheep skulls pleaded not guilty to 18 misdemeanor charges in Park County Circuit Court.

The investigation into the alleged wildlife crimes of Grant L. Cadwallader began in 2019 after a tip was provided to authorities by his ex-wife, who reported the years-old allegations amid a custody dispute, court records indicated, as reported by the Powell Tribune last week.

Cadwallader is alleged to have committed multiple wildlife crimes over a two-decade period.

A search warrant was executed at Cadwallader’s home on Dec. 20, 2019 and authorities discovered and seized eagle feathers and talons, bear claws, bighorn sheep heads with horns and electronic devices.

A forensics lab indicated the talons and feathers came from at least two different eagles and that some of the claws came from a single grizzly, North Cody Game Warden Travis Crane of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department revealed in an affidavit.

More from the Powell Tribune:

The warden’s affidavit indicates that investigators believe Cadwallader obtained the grizzly claws from a bear he’d shot on the North Fork and acquired some of the bighorn sheep heads while working for a private company that helps capture and radio collar wildlife for research purposes.

Crane and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Bo Stone interviewed Cadwallader more than a year after they raided his home, in February 2021. The interview…was reportedly arranged in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming, indicating federal authorities had some interest in the case.

The affidavit says Cadwallader guessed that the incident occurred sometime between 2002 and 2004 in the North Fork area. The affidavit quotes him as saying he was shed hunting when he stumbled upon a pair of grizzly cubs and was abruptly charged by their mother. Cadwallader said he shot the sow with his sidearm, but it kept charging, so he fired two more shots. The bruin then veered away and ran out of sight, the affidavit says.

“Immediately after the sow disappeared, the cubs stood up and looked at Cadwallader, who immediately shot and killed each one of them without even thinking about it,” Crane wrote of the defendant’s account. “It was at this time that Cadwallader looked closer at the cubs, realizing they were each about 30 pounds in size. Cadwallader felt horrible about shooting them and at what he had just done.”

Cadwallader and a companion later found the grizzly at the bottom of a ravine and removed five of its claws. He never reported the shooting “because he was scared of being prosecuted and going to jail,” Crane wrote.

Cadwallader is charged with two counts of illegally taking a trophy game animal, and four counts of illegally possessing grizzly claws, golden eagle feathers, golden eagle talons and bald eagle feathers. The remaining 12 charges relate to 12 bighorn sheep skulls that Cadwallader allegedly collected in other states and brought to Wyoming.

“Each of the 18 misdemeanor charges against Cadwallader are punishable with jail time, fines and lost hunting privileges,” the Powell Tribune wrote. “Additionally, a conviction for illegally taking a grizzly bear is typically punished with tens of thousands of dollars in restitution.”

Trial is set for March 7.

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This article by David Strege was first published by For The Win on 23 October 2023. Lead Image: Generic photo of a grizzly bear with two cubs courtesy of Jacob W. Frank of the National Park Service.

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