Update: Sheriff’s office: Shooting of dog near Lolo Pass wasn’t criminal


The hunter who shot a Missoula man’s dog on the assumption it was a wolf near Lee Creek campground on Sunday committed a tragedy but probably not a crime, according to county and state law enforcement officials.

“If we have any more information, if the guy comes forward, it will be investigated further,” Missoula County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Paige Pavalone said Monday. “This is an awful accident. But if it doesn’t fit into a state statute that we can enforce, it’s very difficult to investigate. We’re more than willing to help this person. We want to figure out what happened.”

But beyond taking the initial report from dog owner Layne Spence about the shooting, the sheriff’s office did not see evidence of a crime to be investigated, Pavalone said. The report was passed on to the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Forest Service, whose law enforcement agents reached the same conclusion Monday.

That’s because, according to the statement Spence gave to law enforcement, the shooter tried to apologize after mistaking the brown-and-white malamute dog for a wolf. Spence told the deputy that he told the man to leave him alone and the man left.

That conversation, according to Pavalone, made it extremely difficult to show criminal intent on the part of the shooter. Without criminal intent, the accidental shooting of a domesticated dog is not a crime. It could trigger a civil lawsuit over the loss of personal property, but the sheriff’s office does not investigate civil disputes.

Spence reported the killing of his dog, Little Dave, to the sheriff’s office Sunday afternoon. Spence told a deputy he was cross-country skiing on a road above the Lee Creek campground with his three malamute dogs when a hunter shot one of them on the road. According to the deputy’s report, Spence said Little Dave was wearing a collar with a light when it was shot about 20 yards in front of him.

“The hunter resumed fire and shot approximately four more times, killing the dog,” Pavalone quoted from Spence’s statement. The deputy confirmed the dog was wearing a lighted collar and was shot at least twice, in the neck and rear leg.

Spence told the deputy the hunter approached him and said he thought the dog was a wolf, according to the report. He said the hunter asked if there was anything he could do, but Spence said he was so distraught he told the man to leave. Spence told the deputy the hunter did not make any threatening gestures toward

On Monday, FWP Warden Capt. Joe Jaquith said his agency is strictly limited to crimes involving game animals. Because the dog was a domesticated pet, it would not fall under a game warden’s jurisdiction. And even though it was allegedly shot while standing in a forest road, and hunters may not shoot game animals on a road, that law doesn’t apply to domesticated pets.

Spence told the deputy the man was wearing camouflage with a hunter orange vest, and was pulling an orange sled. He told the deputy the man had a black rifle that appeared to be semiautomatic, but “didn’t believe it was an assault rifle,” Pavalone said, quoting the report. Spence had earlier told the Missoulian the shooter was carrying “an assault weapon.”

Spence could not be reached for comment on Monday. A phone number he previously gave the Missoulian was reported out of service or disconnected.

Wolf hunting is legal in Montana for any qualified hunter with an over-the-counter license. There is no rule prohibiting the use of military-style rifles in hunting, as long as they are legal for civilian ownership.

The U.S. Forest Service maintains the Lee Creek campground for non-motorized winter use. Lolo National Forest recreation manager Al Hilshey said the area is popular with cross-country skiers who like to bring their dogs.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com

Gotta love this comment”crowe – 3 hours ago
“Let me see if I understand this correctly: It’s not criminal to “mis-shoot” something? Not even a fine or license suspension?

And, it is the responsibility of those NOT HUNTING to avoid getting shot, not the people who are licensed by the state to hunt? However, wouldn’t an expert hunter and outdoorsman be able to recognize what it is they are hunting? “Sorry ma’am, but your horse should’ve been wearing a vest. I thought you were riding an elk.”

So, to take this a step further, how are wolves supposed to recognize commercial livestock from say, wild animals open for hunting, if we, the superior species, can’t do it?”


19 thoughts on “Update: Sheriff’s office: Shooting of dog near Lolo Pass wasn’t criminal

  1. This is so disturbing. I thought of this poor fellow all day and his ” little Dave” I haven’t ever heard of such an indiscriminate killing. I mean the wolves are martyred everyday by these people but it seems unconscionable in this state to kill a family pet
    It seems like an anti wolf jihad has been unleashed in Montana… I read the comments in the local paper and no one spoke of the canids either dog and wolves being killed … Montana is sounding very hellish these days. A scary place to be considering the hunt for our beautiful wolves is 8 months long!
    Can we airlift and orange vest our wolves out to TED Turner’s ranch and leave the crazies to kill each other?
    And they are the superior species!
    They would never committ such a heinous crime. Mercy! What has Obama and Tester wrought?

    • I read all those bs comments, too. Then I went back and reread Dan Ashe’s comments from after the wolf rally in DC. And I have read the criteria for wolves or any animal to be considered for the ESA list. Having spent all this time reading, I have come to the conclusion that the best available science is not only not being used, it is purposfully being ignored by Dir. Ashe, Secretary Jewell and I really believe that Congress and the President believe it is a non-issue. To Obama,it is because he can’t run again. It’s not so simple for congress, some of them may want to go back again. Now would be the time to express that fact to them. And why you happened to be bringing it up.
      The obvious reason that wolves are endangered and should stay on the list is in all of the USA, beside the value to ecosystems, tourist dollars and all the other reasons is humans!
      That’s right, we evil species of humans are the main cause of species extinction on this planet and if we don’t protect them, we will see a wolfless country and destroyed another chance to restore our wildlands. Perhaps forever?
      Without federal protections, wolves in America haven’t a chance.

      As for Ted Turner, he could fence in whatever wolves he already has on his private ranch and make the largest private wolf refuge in the country? It couldn’t hurt to ask. And if a few families of refugees turned up at the gates, I am sure there would be room for them.

  2. So… some heavily armed moron confuses a pet dog, collared, with flash lights, accompanied by his owner, for a wolf, shoots at least five times (with two hits, if I read correctly), despite the owner shouting at him to stop it, and THIS is seroiusly considered to be an “unfortunate accident”??? The Sheriff does not see any “criminal activity”, FWP is not competent (as if they ever were…) because of the victim being a pet but no game animal, and this trigger-happy blind & deaf idiot just gets away with killing any canine he happens to see, merrily commencing hunting wolves – or WHATEVER???
    Are you SURE the United States of America, particularly states like Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and such, can be considered a “civilized, western nation” in good conscience?

    • Not necessarily. They really never have been since the contact period. There had to be a couple of Indians up on a cliff watching Louis and Clark paddle by and shrug their shoulders and say “There goes the neighborhood!” And a couple of wolves on the other bank saying the same thing?

  3. Shooting the dog was likely criminal but no criminal investigation will ensue because of a lack of witnesses and maybe the shooter (since he walked away). The Sheriff’s office will pass the buck to FWP. FWP will pass the buck to the Sheriff. If the shooter cannot tell the difference between a Malamute and a wolf, he should turn in his rifle and go back to his Lazy Boy chair. If he was shooting a canine with a human nearby, was there endangerment? In any case there is another Elmer Fudd Nimrod out there so watch for yourselves and your pets folks.

    • I agree but he might not just be a stupid, heartless jerk because other DOGS have been shot in the area? Plus, I think about 18 wolves? I don’t for one second buy his ‘I thought it was a wolf’ excuse! Maybe somebody will think he looks like a coyote?

  4. Pingback: Hunting Is a Destructive Preoccupation | Exposing the Big Game

  5. Pingback: “This is What Happened” when Montana Wolf Hunter Shot a Dog | Exposing the Big Game

  6. If that happened in NY, that hunter would be in jail. Here, law enforcement care about animals and risk their lives to save them. They aren’t a bunch of backward hicks with serial killer tendancies who kill animals for fun. If that hunter shot a second time after seeing the owner nearby, it was intentional, not an accident.

    • Exactly! And if he fired four shots, where did the other two bullets go? He had to be drunk, the dog was standing in the road only a few yards ahead of him! The part that really says the ‘hunter’ is an asshole after he sees he has killed the dog and sees and speaks to the owner, he takes off with his orange sled and poor Mr. Spence has to carry a probably still dying, 100 pound Malamute back to the truck! The shooter couldn’t even give up a $10 plastic sled to put the dog in… what a piece of work! Well, if the shooter’s name happens to float to the surface, I hope that Mr. Spence considers civil charges! Not for the money, although a decent Malamute runs in the thousands, but to call attention to the insanity of wolf hunters/hunting!

    • If that happened in several other states I could mention, the hunter would be DEAD! This man will get what’s coming to him even if we never know who he is.

  7. Wonderfully put, Daniel!! That’s the same thing I’ve been saying for decades. The only we can stop this madness is to wipe out once and for all this ”redneck” mentality in the country. This is a destructive, stupid, regressive ”culture” that prevents even more the ”change” our president so enthusiastically screamed for.

  8. This wolf hunt that is happening all over and in just about any state that has wolves. I was thinking what exactly did all the wolves do in all these different states to deserve a hunt till extinction for some, and the total break up of the wolf pack “family”. I heard they were gasing the mother wolf and her pups in wolf dens.. It’s total persicution of a specific breed of animal. Some people have a reason to be afraid of wolves maybe close calls that frightened them. Alot of Ranchers and Farmers hate them and have made it their mission in life to get rid of every last Wolf, because some wolves have killed cattle or sheep. There is no discussion. They don’t want to hear that they can perchase Working Dogs that would protect their cattle or sheep etc. A wolf could save their life by fighting a bear off so they could run to safety, and grab their gun and kill the bear and the wolf! I believe that no matter what we do to protect the wolf nothing will be done to help them. Free public land to let their cattle and sheep graze for free, because their own land has been over grazed and useless.Money money money.Position in the Federal Government they could care less about the wolf,but a Rancher with money and prestige slappin’ money to who ever allows the most wolf kills ding,ding,ding,ding. You’ve won the lottery. It’s like a Holocaust of wolves. Until they started these wolf hunts and trapping most people would have had no reason to think the wolf should be hunted down till all of it’s kind are dead.They might have seen some from afar and thought how beautiful they were they had no reson to really fear them since there is no documented proof of a wolf human kill. Someone has been paid alot of money to start and finish a species extinction. Only prayer, Only God can stop this slaughter of the majestic wolves,People, if you are as discusted as I am please do something to stop this slaughter of our majestic Wolves.Call your Governor,sign petitions maybe some of you know famous people that would love to help with this cause.Whatever. Because in the end we all have to live with what we have or have not done in our life.I sleep well at night ,it’s the getting up to hear the wolf is still being hunted.

    • My governor passed it to the MI NRC and now since the NRC has full control of what can be hunted …and yes, they added wolves to the list this yr… we as Michigan citizens, can’t do much about it except make comments to blogs. The MI NRC make the rules and they don’t even need a science background in order to be on this commission. Our pathetic governor has picked them to be on this commission. So it is useless to contact our gov in MI. Pure MI, Pure BS. That’s our states motto. Save you tourist money and boycott Michigan and all states that hunt wolves.

  9. Pingback: What Sort of Dweeb Needs an AR15? | Exposing the Big Game

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s