Hunter kills companion dog: “I thought it was a wolf”


Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

It wasn’t hard to see this tragedy coming. Really, it was just a matter of time–not if it would happen, but when.

A Missoula, Montana man went skiing on Sunday, Nov. 17th with his three canine companions– malamutes all–and returned home with only two living dogs. The third, a 2-year-old named Little Dave, was shot multiple times by a camo-clad hunter who thought he was killing a wolf.

The story–as reported by the media and expounded upon by county and state officials–can be read in two three four recent, local articles: “Missoula man says wolf hunter shot, killed pet malamute,” “Sheriff’s office: Shooting of dog near Lolo Pass wasn’t criminal,” and (two updates since posting) “Dog shooting reveals legal gray area for hunting, recreation,” and “Authorities spoke with hunter who killed dog, say he won’t be charged.”

Little Dave’s guardian, a man named Layne, witnessed his companion’s death.   Because it’s right that he tell the story in his own voice, and because animal advocates will recognize the depth of his anguish–and anger, I offer his personal account of the event, taken with his permission from his Facebook page.

What is on my mind is the tragedy that has taken place and the miss quotes from the media and the Sheriffs dept. So I am setting the record straight. This is what happened….

I went crosscountry skiing up at Lee Creek campground where I have gone in the past. Knowing it was hunting season I put the bright lights that are on all three of my dogs collars.

After skiing for about 200-300 yards I here “tat”, my dog in front of me, his rear leg is blown off. I scream “no,no,no,stop stop” and as I near my dog who was 15 yards in front of me I hear “tat,tat,tat,tat.”

Little Dave - courtesy photo from Facebook

Little Dave – courtesy photo from Facebook

I look up and there is the “hunter” and I screamed “what have you done?” Screaming hysterically, the man says ” I thought it was a wolf.”

I said “You just killed my dog, you killed one of my kids.”

I started screaming “noooooo.” He started to say something like “can I do something,” not I am sorry.

I said “Do you know what a wolf looks like? You killed my dog.”

The man took off, I just screamed “noooooooo” and tried to put him back together but his leg was torn off and yes 15 yards in front of me and yes he was shot with an ASSAULT rifle, I know I have seen them it was either an AR 15 or AR 14. It was all black had a sound suppressor and that was why no big BOOM BOOM semi automatic.

I know guns, I don’t have any but I have shot them before, and yes I have hunted both Bow and Rifle. It is the irresponsible hunters who think they can shoot any animal they see if they are in the woods.

The MT Fish and Wildlife said they couldn’t press any charges because it wasn’t a game animal on the road, it was a domestic animal. What???? Bullshit, So I left my skiis and poles there, put my Little Dave’s bloody and broken body on my shoulder and hiked out to also get my other dogs to safety.

So no charges, I call the police dept who gives me examples of people getting hurt because of the public outcry and are afraid of vigilante violence. But the truth is still one of our rights and so is freedom of speech. I don’t want this guy to get hurt , but something needs to be done…I am heart truly heart broken, everything I do is for my dogs, from where I live, to what I drive, and what I do is predicated on the lives of my dogs…Thank you to everyone who has wished myself and my other dogs Frank and Rex well…Layne

Where do we go with our anger–those of us who love dogs? Who love wild places? The last time I went to Lee Creek–years ago now–we met friends there to go snowshoeing with our combined three dogs. Shortly afterward, we learned that a skier’s dog was caught in a snare at Lee Creek, yet we’d never given the first thought to the possibility that traps might be lying in wait there. Even the U.S. Forest Service touts this area for its winter recreation opportunities–but the mountains feel less friendly. We haven’t been back to Lee Creek since.

Now, a six-month-long wolf hunting season–September 15 to March 15–stretches into the future, increasing the odds that more tragedies await. As of today, 85 Montana wolves have been killed, and the 2-1/2 month wolf trapping season hasn’t even started. The woods are not safe for anyone–wild, domestic, or human.

A culture of gun worship, a vendetta mentality against wolves and other predators, and the complete dominance of blood sports in both funding the state management agency and setting its management goals have left a great many of us out in the cold, without peace of mind in wild country–when we venture there at all.

Little Dave, on a romp in the snowy outdoors, paid the ultimate price when a man with a gun couldn’t distinguish between a malamute and a wolf and took the shot anyhow. And then fired several more. And while the dog’s guardian is not necessarily opposed to hunting, it can’t be of any consolation that the bullets that killed his beloved companion were meant for another canine who loves her pups and her family equally as much, in her own way. We animals are really quite similar in many meaningful ways.

12 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on " OUR WORLD".

  2. […] via Hunter kills companion dog: “I thought it was a wolf”. […]

  3. An absolutely heart wrenching story. I can only hope Dave’s guardian stumbles on this conclusion that sums it up succinctly. Nothing more can be said after this “And while the dog’s guardian is not necessarily opposed to hunting, it can’t be of any consolation that the bullets that killed his beloved companion were meant for another canine who loved her pups and her family equally as much, in her own way.”

  4. Actually “little Dave” got caught in the crosshairs of politics that started back in 2011 when Pres Obama signed the 2011 budget bill with the rider attached by Sen Tester of Montana that took away the ‘endangered and protected status of the gray wolf in Montana and handed over “management” to the state. All the canid lives, be they wild or domestic that have been taken in this state were traded for Tester’s vote. A pact with the devil couldn’t be more insidious then that vote. It caused the “wolf wars” “little Dave” found himself a victim.
    Please urge your Senators and Congress people to end this insanity and give the Gray Wolf their rightful place protected under the ESA… It was the law! Do we need more ‘little Dave’s ‘ to die and more unnamed but beautiful intelligent wolves to die because we lack the courage to do the right thing?

  5. The wolf hunter won’t face any charges? He better for an atrocity like this!

  6. Get all these unthinkable/unspeakable wolf hunting laws repealed and abolished!

  7. Subsequent reports on this incident suggest that the details might be more nuanced and murky than initially reported. My initial thought is that the reporting in this story was a little lazy and one-sided, and Layne’s account might be laden with at least some measure of hyperbole.
    That said — going on what I can discern from this and other news stories — the hunter broke basic rules of safety and ethics protocol. Namely, not being absolutely sure of his target and what was beyond/near it. (If Layne’s account regarding his proximity to the dog is true, then I’m flabbergasted as to how the shooter failed to notice the immediate presence of another human being.)
    Also — not either waiting for a clean killing shot on a static animal (apparently, the dog must have still be at nearly a full run when the shooter opened fire) — or simply passing the shot up. Had the hunter done the latter — that is, refrained from shooting at a moving animal (a poor practice which almost always leads to wounding shots) — this entire tragic mess could have been avoided.
    @Rebecca — I’ve noted this numerous times in previous threads about wolves — but the wolf population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of Montana/Idaho/Wyoming was never intended to be placed under perpetual and permanent ESA status. (For one thing, world-wide, Canis Lupus is hardly and endangered species).
    It was understood from the time the GYE wolf reintroduction program was discussed during the 1970s and 80s — and then finally implemented in the 1990s — that once that population of wolves reached certain levels — it would be de-listed and management would be handed over to the states. And, that state management would most probably involve public wolf hunting. It baffles me that people are protesting state management and wolf hunting now, as if it were some dirty secret that was sprung on them — when they had the better part of three decades’ warning that it was going to happen.
    All that said, as a hunter/Hunter Education instructor myself, I fully understand that there are a number of what we on the inside call “slob” hunters out there. And the vindictive nature that wolf hunting can sometimes (but certainly not always) attract lends itself to a higher chance for slovenly, unethical and unsafe “hunting” practices.
    I expect there very well could be more tragic situations such as this.
    I’m not sure what the answer is. Wolf hunting is not going to go away. The states jumped through a long series of hoops to gain management (the fact stands, the wolf populations in MT/ID/WY surpassed the supposedly predetermined de-listing threshold several years before de-listing actually happened) — so they are not about it give it up. Or, for that matter, let so many wolves be killed that ESA would kick back in.
    Also, according to what I can discern in reports from the field, wolves are not an easy species to hunt (and are getting more difficult as they catch on to the fact they’re being hunted) and the vast majority of wolf hunters have conducted themselves well.
    People can — and should — debate the details of the wolf hunts. Are quotas too low, too high? Are some areas simply not appropriate for hunting? Should trapping be allowed or banned? Again, these are all great questions to keep pressing. But the notion that wolf hunting can simply be banned because it offends the sensibilities of some is both naive and arrogant.
    This will continue to be a cantankerous issue on all sides. And, every time somebody does something stupid and dangerous like this — or every time some yay-hoo redneck posts a violent and graphic “wolf hunting” video on YouTube — there’s sure to be an outbreak of hysteria.
    Wolves are caught up on a polarized political/ideological football game, so to speak. But, I think at the end of the day, both wolves and wolf hunting are here to stay, regardless of which people whichever side get irritated for whatever reason.

  8. […] season. As I write, 106 have been killed by projectile and three in traps, with one companion malamute mistaken and slain for a wolf. Just this morning we learned that a protected grizzly bear was caught in a wolf trap […]

  9. How is there no charges being brought against this “hunter” that cannot even identify his target ? Little Dave does not look like a wolf. You should not be hunting if you cannot identify what you are shooting at. When you cannot identify your “target” prey and kill a dog you should be charged and hunting privileges end for good. It is irresponsible to not charge and irresponsible to allow someone that clearly does not know what they are shooting to hunt again.

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