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Men charged with killing wolves

Two Finland, Minn., men were indicted Monday on federal charges for allegedly killing two gray wolves, burying them in the Superior National Forest, and lying to federal investigators about the incident.

Vernon Lee Hoff, 54, and Kyler James Jensen, 31, are each charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, one misdemeanor count of violation of the Endangered Species Act, and one felony count of making false statements to a federal officer. Jensen also is charged with a second violation of the Endangered Species Act.

If convicted, both men face maximum penalties of five years in prison for making a false statement to a federal official and one year on each of the remaining charges.

According to court documents:

On Feb. 17, 2010, after Jensen purposely killed the wolves with his vehicle in the Superior National Forest, he and Hoff conspired over the phone to transport the carcasses to a work site in the forest for burial. After the call, Jensen loaded the two gray wolves into his vehicle, traveled to the Superior National Forest, and buried them with the use of a bulldozer.

That night, Jensen returned to the burial site, removed the wolves' bodies, attempted to destroy evidence that he buried the wolves at that location, and again placed the wolves in his truck.

At the time, the gray wolf was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The indictment also alleges that Hoff lied to United States Fish & Wildlife Service officials when asked whether he talked to Jensen about transporting the wolf carcasses and that Jensen lied to U.S.F.W.S. officials, denying he had buried the carcasses in the Superior National Forest.

This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S.F.W.S. and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A search of Minnesota court records for Hoff found four cases containing nine charges, including assault, terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, and speeding. A search for Jensen found 16 cases containing 31 charges, including kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, domestic abuse, and alcohol, drug, and traffic offenses.