By Dean Weingarten
Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- On 27 October, 2017, an Oregon elk hunter found himself being stalked by three wolves.
One of the wolves charged directly at him, in spite of his yelling in an attempt to scare it off. The hunter fired at the charging wolf, believing his life was in danger.
The wolf was killed, and the other two wolves ran into cover at the shot. The hunter initially thought the animal might have been a coyote, but examination by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) revealed it was an 83 lb female wolf.
Further investigation at the site of the shooting indicated the hunter was 27 yards from where he shot and where the wolf died. The wolf was seized and later released to ODFW for examination. The Union County District Attorney’s Office was consulted regarding the investigation, and based upon the available evidence, the case will not be prosecuted as this is believed to be an incidence of self-defense.
It is unlawful to kill a wolf in Oregon, except in defense of human life — and in certain instances involving wolf depredation of livestock.
According to ODFW, this incident marks the first time that a wolf has been reported shot in self-defense in Oregon since they began returning to the state in the late 1990s.
The myth of the “harmless” wolf was created by the intense hunting and trapping pressure applied by hunters and trappers equipped with 19th century technology, extending into the mid 20th century. Wolves are opportunistic top level predators in direct competition with man for the top level spot. It was relentless hunting with modern rifles, trapping with steel traps and snares, and poisoned baits that reduced wolf populations and made them shy of humans.
When these pressures were removed in the late 20th century, wolf populations zoomed. Without intense hunting or trapping, wolf populations grew and their prey species populations dropped. Wolf contact with people increased. Documented attacks were sure to follow.
Professor emeritus Valerious Geist of the University of Calgary, Canada wrote a heavily documented paper(pdf) on the process, as he tried to understand where the model of the “harmless” wolf, that he had believe all his life, had failed. If you wish a shortened version, I have put together an excerpt.
Recipe for “harmless & romantic” wolves (based on Alberta data): License trappers so as to have one trapper per 25 square miles. Give him leg-hold traps, snares, poison and an accurate gun, insist that he live off the land, give him a monetary reward for killing wolves, hire predator control officers to kill all wolves entering agricultural lands, let game wardens poison wolves after the big game season, remove all legal protection from wolves so that hunters, ranchers, farmers etc can shoot them all year long, drop by the ton frozen horse meat injected with strychnine or 1080 from aircraft on frozen lakes all winter long, (note killings of wolves by native people as ongoing).
It is interesting that the ODFW recommends that a warning shot be fired as part of a means to scare off threatening wolves.
“Dangerous encounters between wolves and people are rare, as are such encounters between people and cougars, bears and coyotes,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW acting wolf coordinator. “They will usually avoid humans and leave the area when they see, hear, or smell people close by. 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.”
Dangerous encounters with wolves are still rare. Wolf populations are growing in populated areas. As wolf populations grow, wolves will become more habituated to humans, and wolf attacks on humans will increase.
The way to minimize these attacks is to keep wolf population at acceptable levels. Wolves are very difficult animals to hunt on foot with rifles. More efficient methods, such as steel traps, or hunting from aircraft, may need to be employed.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.