Over 1 million readers this year!

Eyewitness describes Wyoming wolf’s final hours in the Green River Bar

The bar patron who first alerted authorities of Cody Robert’s possession of a live wolf shares what happened on a now-notorious night in February.

Wyoming Game and Fish on Wednesday released this video evidence collected during the investigation into Cody Roberts, a Wyoming man who was fined $250 for possessing a live wolf. Game and Fish released this image as part of a public records request made by WyoFile. (Wyoming Game and Fish)

Cody Roberts walked into the Green River Bar joking that he’d found a lost cattle dog. The woman tending bar that evening seemed to know what would happen next.

“The bartender goes, ‘Cody, you better not bring in a f—— lion,’” an eyewitness recalled. “She knew he was going to bring something in that was not a dog.” 

Roberts didn’t listen. It wasn’t a dog and it wasn’t a lion, but moments later he reappeared with a muzzled, leashed wolf — an animal that wanted nothing to do with the Green River Bar. 

“It didn’t want to go,” the bar patron recalled. “Like you know when your dog doesn’t want to go to the vet?”

The Green River Bar in Daniel pictured in April 2024. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

The 42-year-old resident of the small western Wyoming town of Daniel muscled the reticent animal inside. The gravely injured wild wolf remained in the rowdy tavern for hours thereafter.

Wyoming, and the rest of the world, wouldn’t learn of Roberts and the wolf for a month. Since then, the allegations against Roberts — that he ran down the wolf on a snowmobile, taped the injured animal’s mouth shut and showed it off at the bar before killing it — have become international news. Authorities have released few details about what happened beyond two short videos and a citation that showed he was fined $250 for possessing a live wolf.

This account of what happened at the Green River Bar on Feb. 29 comes from an eyewitness to whom WyoFile has granted anonymity. The person, who was at the bar that night and later alerted authorities to what had occurred, is being left nameless at their request for their own safety. The worldwide outrage over this incidence of animal abuse has generated rampant death threats — even toward those who had nothing to do with it. The eyewitness provided WyoFile with videos from that night which corroborated their account.

Patrons of the Green River Bar had a mixed response to a wolf in their midst, the eyewitness recalled. About half of the 30 or so people who came and left the watering hole while the wolf was present that evening appeared to be friends and family of Roberts. 

“People were petting it, taking photos of it, hugging on it,” the person recollected. “I want to be clear: He wasn’t kicking or beating or torturing it. The torture was in not putting it down when he ran it over.” 

“He was a jokester about it,” the eyewitness added, “while it was just sitting there bleeding to death.” 

Wounded wolf

The eyewitness who described the events of Feb. 29 to WyoFile also reported the incident to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. In response to the tip, State wildlife managers began investigating Roberts on March 1, the day after he brought the animal to the bar. By March 4, Roberts and his attorney met with wardens Adam Hymas and Bubba Haley, during which time he admitted to possessing the live wolf at both his home and a private business, according to legal documents WyoFile acquired through the Wyoming Public Records Act. 

During the night at the Green River Bar, the eyewitness did not hear Roberts brag about how or when he acquired the wolf. 

Wyoming Game and Fish on Wednesday released this video evidence collected during the investigation into Cody Roberts, a Wyoming man who was fined $250 for possessing a live wolf. Game and Fish released this image as part of a public records request made by WyoFile. (Wyoming Game and Fish)

But through subsequent communication with a Game and Fish staffer after the tip, the eyewitness was told that Cody Roberts admitted to running it over with a snowmobile. He “injured it so bad it could barely stay conscious,” one state employee told the eyewitness.

Roberts ran down the wolf in an area where Wyoming manages wolves as a “predator” — a zone covering 85% of the state in which there are virtually no regulations on how wolves can be killed. Bludgeoning wolves with snowmobiles here is legal. 

Wolf biologist Doug Smith, recently retired from a decades-long tenure at Yellowstone National Park, has reviewed the footage of the wolf in the Green River Bar. Smith was confident the wolf was a yearling born in 2023, which means it would have been about 9 months old by late February. The retired biologist had a read on the animal’s behavior.  

“It’s recovering from severe injury, and it’s probably got internal organ damage,” Smith told WyoFile. “The fact that this wolf should be freaking out — and it’s not — indicates it’s in pain and badly injured.”

It’s not always obvious when a wolf is dying from internal injuries, Smith said.

“Having necropsied wolves that have been kicked to death by elk,” he said, “it’s hard to tell externally that they suffered any damage and trauma.”

Wyoming Game and Fish on Wednesday released this video evidence collected during the investigation into Cody Roberts, a Wyoming man who was fined $250 for possessing a live wolf. Game and Fish released this image as part of a public records request made by WyoFile. (Wyoming Game and Fish)

Roberts could not be reached for an interview. He declined to speak with Emily Cohen, the reporter for community radio station KHOL, who first broke the story, and could not be located when a WyoFile reporter tried to interview him at his home.

Mixed reaction

In the eyewitness’ opinion, Roberts, who runs a trucking company, thought the entire episode was hilarious.

“I don’t know if he’s literally low-IQ, and just doesn’t get that this shit’s not OK,” the eyewitness said. “He was drunk and rambling mostly. A guy who thinks highly of himself.” 

After Roberts initially ignored the bar owner, she “didn’t waste her breath” and did not ask the Daniel man to leave or remove the wolf. The eyewitness could tell that the Green River Bar’s owner, who worked solo that night, “was not OK with it,” but was in a tough spot. 

“His family were half the patrons at the bar that night,” the eyewitness said. “What are you going to do, kick the whole bar out and close up for the night?” 

WyoFile’s attempts to reach the bar owner for an interview were unsuccessful. 

Nobody forcefully told Roberts that he needed to put the animal out of its misery during the hours the eyewitness was present. Some patrons were clearly bothered by what was happening, but those folks just removed themselves from the situation and left, the eyewitness said. 

Roberts, meanwhile, kept trying to draw attention to his prize. 

“By the end of the night, he was calling it a wolf,” the eyewitness said. “He definitely admitted that he put the collars on it.” 

In two short video clips of the wolf taken in Green River Bar released by Game and Fish on Wednesday, the prone gray-coated wolf is wearing what appears to be a commercial tracking and shock collar. The eyewitness never saw Roberts shock the dying animal. 

The eyewitness left the Green River Bar not knowing what became of the wolf. Later, the witness learned from a Game and Fish staffer that the animal was killed.

A WyoFile reporter heard it was shot behind the Green River Bar when he visited the establishment. 

Roberts was fined $250 for illegal possession of warm blooded wildlife, but that was the full extent of the penalty administered by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Subsequently, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office launched its own investigation, probing Roberts’ actions for potential animal cruelty violations. 

“Our office, along with the Sublette County Attorney’s Office, are working with Wyoming Game and Fish to gather evidence and information relevant to the case,” a statement from the sheriff’s office reads. “As this is an active investigation, we will not be able to release any details at this time.”

The eyewitness, who “loves” Sublette County, regrets how the community’s reputation has been tarnished because of one man’s actions. 

“It didn’t need to happen,” the person told WyoFile. “It gives it a bad name. It’s a beautiful place, and there’s great people here. We’re not all Cody Roberts.”  

The witness to the tormented, gravely injured wolf also hopes that law enforcement punishes Roberts much more severely so that he and others learn a lesson. 

“He’s been going around town telling people it was worth it,” the eyewitness said. “$250? That’s a round for the bar.” 

“I would like to see a law that is determined enough to keep people from keeping animals alive when they should not be alive anymore,” the witness added.

This article was originally published by WyoFile and is republished here with permission. WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.