A Montana man’s pet malamute was shot and killed by a wolf hunter in a popular outdoor recreational destination near Missoula on Sunday.
Layne Spence, a Missoula resident, was cross-country skiing with his three pet malamutes in the Lolo National Forest’s Lee Creek campground area when one of his dogs, Little Dave (center in photo above), was shot at.
The hunter, who claimed he thought the dog was a wolf, fired at Little Dave using an assault rifle from a public roadway approximately 30 yards away. The first round of bullets from the hunter’s rifle hit the dog’s hind leg.
Spence saw the hunter in front of him dressed in camouflage, and yelled in his direction to stop firing.
“I started screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘No! No! Stop! Stop! You’re shooting my dog!’” Spence said, according to a USA Today article.
Spence went on to say that as he ran to save Little Dave, the hunter fired more rounds fatally wounding the dog. After the dog collapsed the hunter approached Spence and explained his confusion about the animal.
Local, state and US wildlife authorities have questioned the hunter, but have decided not to press charges, claiming that he did not break any criminal or wildlife laws.
“Based on the statements provided by both parties, it was determined that there was no malicious or purposeful intent to cause harm or injury to a domesticated animal on behalf of the hunter,” according to a statement issued by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department.
Law enforcement officials have kept the hunter’s identity unknown to protect his safety.
The incident has stirred a heated debate in the Missoula community about the rules and regulations that govern wolf hunting in Montana. Some are claiming that the state’s wolf hunting, which is open to hunters from September 15 to March 15, has much more lenient regulations than other big game in the state.
Read about controversial wolf hunting in Michigan.
One source of contention among locals is that Montana wolf hunters are only required to wear orange in the field from the September 15 to December 1 segment of the season. Another concern is that hunters are allowed to shoot wolves from on or across public roadways.
Perhaps the biggest gripe, and one that we share, is that malamutes only bare a slight semblance to wolves, and from 30 yards away, the hunter should have been able to identify his target better.
What do you think about this story? Would you be able to tell the difference between a wolf and a malamute? Let us know in the comments section below.
Featured image: Courtesy photo via USA Today