Friday, September 26, 2014

Missoula man "explains" hitting wolves with van; still under investigation


MISSOULA -- Toby Bridges, the Missoula man who ran over two wolves and posted pictures on Facebook recently, has come under national scrutiny for his post on the Facebook page for Lobo Watch, an organization he founded in 2008 for wolf-control advocates.

The September 16th posting references an incident on August 14th, when Bridges hit two wolves while driving on Interstate 90 near the Idaho-Montana border, killing one of them. 

Bridges talked with MTN News on Thursday, and explained, "A mature cow elk and a calf ran out onto the interstate. I slowed down and took my foot off the gas."

That's when he spotted four wolves. He wrote in the post that he let off the brake and hit the accelerator, because he was going to "save that calf." 

Bridges told MTN News that he did not actually intend to hit any wolves, but rather hoped to scare them off; he says hitting the wolves was unavoidable. 

He explained, "My goal was to get it up there and to either haze those wolves off those elk, or get in between those wolves and those elk. I had no intention of hitting a wolf. There was no stopping, there was no opportunity to stop, even the greatest NASCAR driver out there in the world couldn't' have prevented running into some of those wolves."

As far as posting the images to Facebook, Bridges said, it was to send a message to pro-wolf advocates: "They don't have any problems going after us all the time. I did it, I'll be honest with you...I did it just to aggravate them. I wanted them to do something. I wanted them to step across the line, and they did. So I got what I wanted."

He also posted to the Lobo Watch Facebook page: "My original post on this incident on this Facebook page has accomplished exactly what I had's built a new fire beneath the wolf control cauldron."

In a press release sent out on Thursday morning, Bridges states: "Like the vast majority of highway collisions with wildlife, it was purely an accident - with the animals running right out onto the roadway in front of the vehicle."

Bridges also notes in the press release that he spent "about 30 minutes" with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 2 game wardens last week; FWP is still investigating the incident.