A former Pennsylvania Game Commissioner has admitted buying wolf-hybrid puppies without a permit.
Stephen L. Mohr, of Bainbridge, pleaded guilty Tuesday before a Lancaster County district justice to two summary counts of importing an exotic animal without a permit and paid $2.162 in fines and costs.
Mohr, who served on the Game Commission from 1997 to 2005, said he thought the six puppies he bought from an Ohio breeder were Husky/Malamute mixes.
He said turned over the puppies to a neighbor who sells dogs to make "a little extra money." [We have asked the Department of Agriculture whether this unidentified woman is a licensed dog broker in Pennsylvania.)
Mohr, who now serves as president of United Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, told the Lancaster Intelligencer he believed he was charged by the game commission as "payback" for his opposition to its deer management program, a charge the commission denies.
"He was treated the same as anyone else who violates the law, said spokesman Jerry Feaser.
Feaser declined to comment when asked if, as an ex-Game Commissioner, Mohr should have known he was engaging in a potentially illegal act.
Under the game code, wolves are exotic species and a permit is required for their importations. The Game Commission conducted DNA tests to determine that the puppies were part wolf before it filed charges, Feaser said.
Three of the puppies were sold at the time of the probe; the other three have been taken to a licensed wildlife sanctuary, said Feaser.
Mohr operates Island Exotic Hunts on an island in the Susquehanna River where hunters can pay $350 to shoot wild boars, goats and sheep. He has permits from both the Department of Agriculture and the Game Commission to import those animals and operate the hunt.
Animal welfare advocates call Mohr's operation a "canned hunt" because of the nature of a hunt where wild animals are brought in to be shot in small spaces. Groups like the Humane Society of the United States have long sought legislation - including in Pennsylvania -to outlaw such practices as inhumane.
In 2003 Mohr was found guilty of violating the state's ethics act for failing to disclose income from his hunting operation and from the sales of products to bait animals. It also found him guilty of seeking to block or oppose game commission decisions that could negatively affect his business interests.
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