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Landowner kills wolf chasing dogs in Little Belts

A rancher shot and killed an adult male wolf chasing his dogs shortly after sunrise May 2 on private land bordering the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest near the head of Little Otter Creek, northeast of Monarch in the Little Belt Mountains.

The wolf weighed about 100 pounds and was estimated at 2 to 3 years old.

The wolf was approximately 150 yards from the house when the landowner shot it. None of the dogs were injured.

Montana law allows a person to kill a wolf in the act of attacking or killing a domestic dog. No permit is required, and FWP must be notified within 72 hours of the take or attempt to take. The carcass is surrendered to FWP. Physical evidence of the wolf attack is required that would lead a reasonable person to conclude the attack was ongoing.

A person may not intentionally bait a wolf with domestic dogs or livestock for the purpose of killing the wolf. Wolves may also be opportunistically hazed or harassed in a non-injurious manner.

The landowner called FWP, which investigated the incident. Federal Wildlife Services also visited with the landowner and discussed steps to take if wolves were suspected of killing livestock, e.g. cover livestock carcasses and minimize disturbance to area so investigators can look for evidence of predators. The landowner reported that several calves had been killed in previous weeks but were presumed to have been killed by coyotes.

In 2018, FWP detected a resident wolf pack in the southern portion of the Little Belt Mountains, north of White Sulphur Springs. Five wolves were legally harvested in Meagher County during the 2018 wolf season. It is unknown how many wolves may be using the area. No packs of wolves are currently known to have an established territory in the northeast corner of the Little Belts.

Wolves are known to disperse in late winter and early spring and can be expected to show up in new areas. It is unknown whether the wolf killed May 2 was traveling alone through the area, or if it was part of a pair or group of wolves that could be denning in the area.

Wolves generally have pups between the middle and end of April and are known to defend areas around their den sites from other canids, including coyotes and domestic dogs.


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