UP cattle farmer linked to wolf hunt accepts plea deal in animal neglect case

Apr 15, 2014

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission hears evidence for a wolf hunt in Michigan.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

When the Michigan Natural Resources Commission voted to allow a wolf hunt in Michigan, they did so with the idea that the hunt would help curb the number of so-called "problem wolves" in the Upper Peninsula – wolves that preyed on livestock owned by cattle farmers.

But MLive reporter John Barnes looked at the wolf predation records in the Upper Peninsula and found that one farmer accounted for the majority of predation reports.

That farmer was John Koski, a cattle farmer who had a history of taking payments from taxpayers to recoup his cattle losses from wolf predation.

The state provided Koski with donkeys. The donkeys have no fear of wolves and keep them away from cattle.

Those donkeys died of neglect, and now Barnes reports that Koski accepted plea deal after being charged with "animal cruelty."

Koski was charged in Ontonagon County District Court with “animal cruelty” in connection with the donkeys. The misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Koski's April 23 trial has been canceled, however, and a plea scheduled for the following day, a court official said. The agreement came after off-the-record pretrial conference last week.

Koski's lawyer, Matt Tingstad, confirmed a deal was in the works. One goal, he said, was to avoid any jail time for Koski. Tingstad declined further specifics.