Oregon Elk Hunter Shoots Attacking Wolf in Self Defense

An Oregon man shot an attacking wolf in self-defense while he was elk hunting. Other wolves in the pack surrounded him before he shot.

Post originally published in November, 2017.

An unnamed, 38-year-old man from Clackamas, Oregon, was elk hunting when he shot an attacking wolf in self-defense.

Clackamas is located in northern Oregon, and the man was hunting in the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division, indicated that on Oct. 27, 2017, the man called both departments and reported that he'd shot what he thought was either a coyote or a wolf in Union County.

Officers arrived at his camp and took the hunter's report. He said while he was hunting, he noticed an animal moving around him. Altogether, he saw three of what he assumed at the time were coyotes.

Suddenly one of them began to run directly at him. He yelled at it and when it didn't stop, he shot it, killing it instantly. The other two animals immediately left.

The man returned to his camp and told his fellow hunters what happened, so they went back to look. The men determined the animal was indeed a wolf, which the wildlife officials confirmed when they arrived and investigated.

Officers estimated that the man shot the wolf at 27 yards. They took possession of the wolf and later determined that it was an 83-pound female. They also determined the wolf was part of a pair of wolves occupying the Starkey and Ukiah Wildlife Management Units in northeast Oregon.

This is the first instance of someone shooting a wolf in Oregon in self-defense since the 1990s.

ODFW Acting Wolf Coordinator Roblyn Brown said such encounters between wolves and humans are rare.

"They will usually avoid humans and leave the area when they see, hear, or smell people close by," she said. "If you see a wolf or any other animal and are concerned about your safety, make sure it knows you are nearby by talking or yelling to alert it to your presence. If you are carrying a firearm, you can fire a warning shot into the ground."

But wolf populations have been growing unabated across the upper half of the country, since in 2014, a federal judge ruled they were an endangered species and therefore could not be managed by hunting or trapping.

Since that time, there's been a whole new generation of wolves that have grown up without fear of humans. Reports of wolf attacks and close encounters have increased, recently a Minnesota grouse hunter and his dog were threatened by wolves.

And in Wisconsin, the DNR pays thousands of dollars annually to dog owners and farmers for wolf attacks on their animals.

No charges were levied against the hunter, as it's legal to shoot a wolf in Oregon in self-defense.

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