On November 2, an elk hunter in Oregon reported that he was forced to shoot a wolf in self-defense. The hunter, whose name has not been released, was stalking elk in the eastern part of the state, near Seneca, when a wolf approached him. The animal came out from the woods in front of him at 30 yards and wouldn’t stop coming toward him. After yelling at the wolf and waving his arms in an effort to scare it off, the hunter said he had to shoot it. 

The incident is still under investigation, but authorities say that the man self-reported shooting the animal. “Preliminary investigation revealed the hunter acted reasonably in shooting the wolf for personal safety,” the Oregon State Police (OSP) said in a press release. “The hunter stated he feared for his safety and fired one round, striking the wolf and killing it instantly.” Officials found that the man was only 18 yards from the wolf when he fired. 

“Like other large carnivores, wolves will tend to avoid people,” the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said. “[Attacks] likely to occur when wolves are habituated to people, when dogs are involved, or if wolves are sick.”

According to a study by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare. There were only 489 wolf attacks worldwide between 2002 and 2020. The overwhelming majority of them involved wolves with rabies, and only 67 were considered to be predatory. Officials have not said whether the animal involved in the recent incident was rabid or not. 

After killing the wolf, the hunter reported, another one came out of the timber, and he was able to scare it away with a warning shot. The OSP Fish and Wildlife Division, the ODFW, and a district wildlife biologist arrived on the scene after the hunter called the ODFW to report the incident. 

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“The hunter properly followed instructions and left the scene intact,” the State Police said. “The hunter then voluntarily led OSP and ODFW to the scene on federal property, southeast of Seneca.” 

Oregon has around 178 wolves, and this one was in the range of the Logan Valley Pack. There is no hunting season for wolves in the Beaver State, and those who kill wolves illegally can face up to a $6,250 fine and one year in jail. The authorities will issue a report to the Grant County District Attorney’s Office for review.