Montana Hunters Say They Shot Wolf in Self Defense

A pair of Montana hunters say they were forced to shoot a wolf in a case of self defense.

From this story in the Missoulian:
_Two Flathead Valley hunters say a pack of wolves surrounded them in the woods Saturday while they attempted to retrieve a quartered bull elk, forcing them to shoot and kill a wolf before fleeing. Because wolves are classified as endangered, federal wildlife officials are investigating the incident and will determine if the shooting was justified. Neither man was injured during the confrontation, but officials will focus their investigation on the credibility of the hunters' stories and corroborating evidence at the site of the incident. "Nobody got bit, but evidently they felt sufficiently threatened or intimidated to the point that they needed to defend themselves," said Jim Satterfield, regional supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "If a wild animal, a grizzly bear for example, or a mountain lion, attacks someone, our investigation usually doesn't focus on where the teeth marks are. We investigate the proximity of the animal to the person, and where in the animal's body it was shot."
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_"Obviously, a claim of self-defense is more believable if an animal is shot in the chest rather than in its rump," Satterfield continued. "But it's going to be up to the (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) to determine if the shooting was justified." Satterfield said he could not comment on the specifics of the investigation because it was now a federal matter. Officials with USFWS were not available for comment Thursday. A game warden who accompanied the men to the kill site Monday reported that multiple tracks confirmed that a pack of wolves had been present, said John Fraley, FWP spokesman for Region 1. The elk had been fed on by wolves and a grizzly bear, he said.

Mark Appleby, 49, of Columbia Falls, and Raymond Pitman, 27, of Whitefish, told their story to members of the media Thursday evening at a news conference, saying they feared for their lives. The men were introduced and accompanied by several vocal critics of federal wolf management who advocated removing Endangered Species Act protections and returning wolf management authority to the state of Montana. "They were in a frenzy," Appleby said of the wolves. "They were howling. It was eerie."_

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