U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- On 7 October 2020, a Coleville, Washington man was checking game cameras in the area near Rocky Creek Road. The sun had set seven minutes earlier, but the sky was clear. The fading glow from the sun, in a clear sky, illuminated the woods. There was no wind.
As he approached a game camera in an area outside of cell phone coverage, he felt as if eyes were upon him. Looking ahead, he saw wolves 30 yards away. The pack showed members 30 yards ahead of him, to the sides, and at least one wolf partially obscured but close behind him.
He was surrounded by wolves. He yelled in an attempt to scare the wolves off. They did not retreat. Instead, they bared their teeth and started growling.
The man was carrying a Browning A-Bolt Mini Medallion rifle in 7mm-08 caliber, topped with an optical sight. To protect himself in the dense cover, he shot one of the menacing wolves in front of him in the chest. The bullet exited the middle of the back near or through the spine. The wolf dropped immediately. The other pack members retreated, howling. From Statesmanexaminer.com:
“The man called us as soon as he managed to get back to a place where he had cell service, and the incident was investigated by the county's wildlife conflict specialist, Jeff Flood, and the state Department of Fish and Game,” said Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke. “Investigators went to the scene and found the dead wolf. From the evidence, they confirmed the man's story and determined that he acted completely within the law because he was threatened.”
The man with the rifle notified the Sheriff's office as soon as he was able to make cell phone connection. Stevens County Sheriff, Brad Manke, contacted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The man, the County wildlife specialist, and Sgt. Leonetti of the WDFW met and went back to the area where the shooting occurred. They found the dead wolf.
Further investigation confirmed the man's story, including pictures from the game camera, which established the time of the incident precisely.
The WDFW has determined no crime was committed. The man acted in self-defense. The Sheriff agreed.
Staci Lehman of the WDFW said the man with the gun did not do anything wrong. Sheriff Manke advised people to carry a firearm when they were in wild areas. From Statesmanexaminer.com:
“He didn't do anything wrong,” she said. “He did everything by the book, including immediately notifying us as soon as he could.”
She said the wolf that was killed is believed to be from the Smackout Pack, which maintains its territory in that area. Manke said, with wolves, cougars, and bears living in the woods of Northeastern Washington, it is advisable for people to carry a gun for safety when they enter the forest.
“We don't have many of these kinds of encounters but they do happen,” he said. “If a person is comfortable and competent with a firearm, I would absolutely encourage them to carry one when they go into the woods.”
Wolf attacks are rare, but are becoming more common. There was a near-miss in Washington State in 2018. From AmmoLand.com:
On 12 July, 2018, a salmon researcher was treed by a pack of wolves in a Washington state wilderness area. She tried pepper spray and yelling, but the pack surrounded her and she climbed a tree. She later climbed down, only to find the wolves still there. She scrambled back up the tree and called for rescue, about 12:30 p.m.
Many experts believe a fatal wolf attack occurred in Alaska in 2010:
The autopsy report concluded that her death was the result of animal attack, with bite injuries to the victim’s neck, but the report falls short of specifying the kind of animal involved. Most experts believe that a pack of 2 to 4 wolves undoubtedly inflicted the fatal injuries, however, the only other known previous fatal wolf attack in North America over the last 100 years occurred in 2005, when a young student, hiking alone, was attacked and partially eaten by a pack of wolves in northern Saskatchewan.
Valerious Geist, a Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at the University of Calgary, Canada, has written a seven-page explanation of how the myth of the harmless wolf came to be. From wolfeducationinternational.com:
I have been digging into historical literature in my quest to understand why in North America the myth of the “harmless wolf” took such a severe hold, to the point of perverting scholarship and quite probably leading to the death of some believers. The conventional view of the harmless wolf, which I also believed in throughout my academic career and four years into retirement, is in sharp contrast to experiences elsewhere. Yet, it certainly coincided with my personal experience pre-1999, after which a misbehaving pack of wolves settled about our and our neighbor's properties at the edge of a farming district in central Vancouver Island. The unexpected behavior of these wolves led me to investigate wolf behavior for the first time.
Game departments and wolf experts have been attempting to have the reintroduced and thriving populations of wolves delisted from endangered species status. They have been opposed by well-funded opposition. President Trump's administration has now delisted them for the fourth time. A court challenge is expected.
Carrying a gun in the woods is, once again, considered prudent and wise. Fortunately, guns and ammunition are better, more powerful, reliable, and relatively cheaper than they have ever been before.
Unfortunately, the current political climate had skyrocketed demand, making many models difficult to obtain.
Thanks to Staci Lehman of the WDFW for helping me obtain specific information about the incident.
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 retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.