(AP) A man hired as part of a new project to protect livestock from wolves was arrested on a nearly decade-old probation violation warrant after someone recognized him from an Associated Press story with photos.
Authorities in Beaverhead County arrested Robert Kunesh on Monday. He posted bond and was released.
Kunesh and his wife, Ebbie, were featured in an AP story earlier this month about a new program in which “range riders” on horseback watch over livestock in Madison Valley and use non-lethal means to keep wolves at bay.
The program is the work of a consortium of government agencies, livestock groups and conservation groups.
Authorities said someone recognized Kunesh, who is from Arizona, and knew there was a warrant for him.
Kunesh was charged in December 1994 in Beaverhead County with stealing a horse. He pleaded guilty and received a three-year deferred sentence. The warrant charged him with violating terms of his release.
Ebbie Kunesh said she and her husband had no idea there was a warrant for him. The couple had moved to Arizona shortly after Kunesh was sentenced, she said.
“There is no way we would have come up here without thinking it was taken care of,” she said in Tuesday’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
A spokesman for the consortium that hired the couple said all of the ranchers who have cattle under the Kuneshes’ watch have been notified of the arrest and aren’t concerned.
“Nobody said, ‘Get him out of there,’ because they think both of them are doing a great job,” said Lane Adamson, who works for the Madison Valley Ranch Lands Group. “It’s not like he can round up all those cattle and take off with them.”
He said officials were aware of Kunesh’s conviction when he and his wife were hired.
Ebbie Kunesh said the 1994 charge was part the result of a mix-up with the horse’s owner. She said she and her husband took the horse to Arizona for training. When they couldn’t get it back to Montana in time for a special horse sale, the owner filed a theft charge, she said.