SEATTLE (AP) — State wildlife researchers have stepped up efforts to protect the safety of animals they study after a Redmond man killed a cougar in a trap and tried to pass it off as a legitimate hunt.

The Seattle Times reports Ronald Dean Wentz shot and killed the animal last year while it was in a trap set by researchers who were monitoring cougar activity in the Snoqualmie Forest. Wentz pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to probation.

An animal rights organization filed a federal complaint in January seeking an investigation into the incident, alleging possible violations of animal welfare laws by researchers.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Brian Kerston studies cougar interactions with humans and was monitoring the cougar that Wentz killed. He says all his traps are now equipped with transmitters that notify him when a trap has been sprung.

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