The Inmate Who Cried Wolf?

What follows are excerpts from a May phone conversation between wolf advocate Pat Wolff and a man she says is Jody Lee "Chance" Cooper, who at the time was serving a sentence for firearms violations at a federal prison in Tucson. Cooper denies talking to Wolff, but comments the man makes during the conversation--especially regarding details of charges he faced--suggest otherwise. This transcript was made from an audio record stored on a Web site belonging to the Forest Guardians: www.fguardians.org/whatsnew.html

Man: Hello, ma'am.
Wolff: Hi. Chance?
Man: Yes, ma'am.
Wolff: What's your last name?
Man: Cooper.

Wolff: Oh, hi. Uh, yeah, my name is Pat Wolff and, um, thanks for calling. . . . Well, as [a friend] probably told you, I do research or writing on the Mexican wolf issue and stuff and, um, and here's why I wanna talk to you. . . .

Man: I need to tell you this. I don't wanna see my name printed nowhere.
Wolff: Okay, okay.
Man: . . . I've been the predator. I'm the predator's predator for a long time. I'm trying to be cool about things here.

Wolff: Okay, okay.
Man: I've had my hunting license, guide license, trapping license, all that little shit suspended for five years.

Wolff: Oh, dear.
Man: I'm a hunter . . . anyway. . . .
Wolff: Yeah [a friend] told me you're a pretty good hunter and wildlife tracker, so. . . .

Man: Yeah, that's what I did. You know what? I'm so against that anymore.
Wolff: Oh, really?
Man: Well, yeah, because I've been locked up for three years. . . . I'm probably as much an environmentalist as most people because I am a hunter.

Wolff: That's great, great. Well, I've got lots of hunter friends here and, but they, here's, here's the word out, and let me, you can tell me if this is right or not. . . . What I've been hearing is that some hunters, mostly in Arizona, are being offered money to kill the released wolves, and I'm wondering if you have ever been, like, if anyone's ever made such an offer to you or if you know is this true? Or is this kind of out there?

Man: Well, I'll give you--how's this? They offered me 35,000 in cash to kill 'em all.

Wolff: Who made that offer?
Man: I can't tell you.
Wolff: Okay.
Man: It's got to do with goddamn cattlemen, for sure.
Wolff: It's got to do with what?

Man: Cattlemen. My dad--see, my family's been here since the 1890s. . . . We've been in Arizona longer than most people have.

Wolff: Yeah. . . .
Man: And . . . but . . . the wolves was always here . . . it was never a goddamn big issue. . . .

Wolff: Well, was it a person or an organization that made you the offer?
Man: A person . . . they got their back up. . . . It came from New Mexico.
Wolff: Yeah? Like, what part of New Mexico? Western, like Catron County?
Man: Exactly.
Wolff: Okay.
Man: The sheriff, of course, hates my guts.

Wolff: So what were the terms of the offer? You were offered 35,000 dollars. . . .

Man: To kill them all.
Wolff: Yeah.
Man: And I'm, ya know, I'm not gonna do it. . . . I like the wolves. We have such an elk population that they starve in the winter.

Wolff: Yeah.
Man: . . . They placed those wolves in a bad spot.
Wolff: Yeah, yeah. . . .

Man: They should have goddamn taken 'em down the Blue River Road. . . . You know where I'm tryin' to say?

Wolff: Yeah.
Man: You know, where the fish hatchery is?
Wolff: Right.
Man: They should have gone and released them down in that area.
Wolff: Well, do you know if anyone else has been offered money?
Man: I think my brother has.
Wolff: Okay, and he's also turned 'em down?
Man: Yeah . . . 35,000 dollars, that's not even gonna pay for the attorney.
Wolff: Yeah, that's not very much.

Man: I know. That's a fed-. . . . And then they get ya . . . and that's 15 years. . . .

Wolff: . . . Yeah, so why? You just don't want to go public about this because. . . .

Man: They'd goddamn bury me.
Wolff: Oh, yeah. I mean, how could they get you? 'Cause you're in prison.
Man: Oh, I was charged. I've been charged. And the goddamn Game and Fish has been after me for years.

Wolff: Yeah.
Man: I can't--I hope you're not taping this.
Wolff: No.

Man: Because I can't . . . 'cause I don't want nothin' to do with this. . . .

Wolff: Well, don't you think that if you told the people at Game and Fish or whoever the authorities were about this that maybe they would go easy on you and let you out since you. . . .

Man: Let me out? I'm here on a gun charge.
Wolff: Okay, so, um. . . .
Man: I'm goin' home in two months . . . I can't have . . . I promised [a friend] just to kinda help you out. When I get out, I might be able to help you out with more stuff.

Wolff: Okay.
Man: I cannot do anything. I'm just helping you out through [a friend].
Wolff: Right, okay.

Man: Me and [a friend] been on the opposite side of the fence for a long time.

Wolff: But now. . . .
Man: It's kinda a very strange coincidence, me and him getting along so well.

Wolff: But you've found common ground, I guess.
Man: Yeah.
Wolff: Yeah, okay.
Man: I've never killed an animal and left it lay.

Wolff: Yeah. So this person who offered you the money to kill the wolf or to kill all the wolves for 35,000 dollars--was the person from Silver City?

Man: No.
Wolff: Okay, but somewhere in Catron?
Man: I think he goddamn lives around Glenwood. He's a goddamn rancher. . . .
Wolff: So this person was someone you knew?
Man: Yeah, I've known him for a long time.

Wolff: Okay. Well, gosh, this is very interesting, I'm just hoping that. . . .

Man: You want to try and catch somebody doing something. . . .
Wolff: I would. . . .
Man: I'd be in so much goddamn trouble. The cattlemen would be on my dad's ass, and my dad would, and ya know it would be a shame if they did things to my father.

Wolff: Yeah, yeah.
Man: We've been here for so goddamn long. . . . I told him that I was gonna say something to somebody be sure don't bring his goddamn name up.

Wolff: Yeah, okay.
Man: And being loyal to [a friend], I'd prefer you not to say anything because I'd have to deny everything. . . .

Wolff: Well, hey. . . . I'm wondering if I could come and visit you sometime, would you talk more to me?

Man: . . . I'm outta here in two months.
Wolff: Okay.
Man: You still gonna be in the country in July?
Wolff: Yeah.
Man: I'll be . . . out . . . we can go have coffee at the damn club.
Wolff: Okay. Well, I gotta head off, um. . . .

Man: Well, ma'am, I'll tell you what, right now, I'm just trying to get out of this goddamn place.

Wolff: Yeah.
Man: . . . You keep up the good work, for sure.
Wolff: Yeah, hey, is [a friend] still there?
Man: No, he left.

Wolff: Okay. . . . Thank you very much. At least I know the rumor's true here.

Man: Goddamn cattle association.
Wolff: Yeah, bastards. Okay. . . . All right. Well, hey, thanks a lot.
Man: Yes, ma'am.
Wolff: Peace.
Man: Thank you.
Wolff: Bye.
Man: Bye.

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