Wapiti Man Charged with Killing Grizzly Along North Fork Highway

Wapiti Man Charged with Killing Grizzly Found Along North Fork Highway

Written by on May 15, 2023

On Thursday, May 11, Wapiti resident Patrick M. Gogerty was charged with a misdemeanor count of taking a trophy game animal without the proper license or authority by Park County Attorney Byran Skoric. But this is only the beginning of what could be a very costly ordeal related to the discovery of a dead grizzly earlier this month.

On May 1, a Cody-based wildlife photographer found a gunshot grizzly along the North Fork Highway. Photos of the dead animal quickly circulated on social media and became a national news story within a few days, appearing in publications like USA Today and the New York Times.

On May 2 – nearly a full day after the discovery – Gogerty “came forward” and admitted he was responsible for the dead animal.

Gogerty has yet to enter a plea in court – that will be done in the Park County Circuit Court during a hearing scheduled for May 19. However, the charging documents give an idea of what happened.

According to Gogerty’s “defense” of his action, he believed he spotted and shot at the black bear. May 1 was the first day of black bear season in Wyoming, and – from a distance of 100 yards – the Wapiti resident was confident enough that he had spotted a black bear roaming along the North Fork Highway.

Gogerty fired seven shots at the bear, hitting it four times. However, when he inspected the carcass, he discovered he had actually killed a federally-protected grizzly. Despite this, Gogerty abandoned the scene and did not report the killing to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Despite efforts to change their status, grizzlies remain a federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act. Therefore, even when a grizzly is shot in justifiable self-defense, the incident must be immediately reported to Wyoming Game and Fish, who must inform the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wyoming Game and Fish is not sharing information on the investigation into the incident, likely because anything related to a dead grizzly is a federal matter. However, the information available shows that Gogerty’s actions are under intense scrutiny, and wildlife officials are venting their professional frustrations.

North Cody Game Warden Travis Crane said, “Gogerty should have turned himself in immediately,” in an affidavit included in court records obtained by the Powell Tribune.

Deliberately killing a grizzly illegally or without just cause is a felony with a maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Guilty persons may also lose their hunting privileges – possibly for life, depending on the circumstances.

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