A Stevensville man says his three dogs were attacked and killed by wolves as they tracked a mountain lion. The dog and two pups were found "ripped open" the hunter said.
According to the Missoulian, Drew Zeiler had been hunting mountain lions in the Josephine Creek area of the Nine Mile drainage near Frenchtown since September, when his dogs' GPS collars indicated they had come to a standstill.
Believing the animals had treed a lion, Zeiler tracked the barking dogs to within 700-800 yards when they suddenly fell silent. In just ten minutes he found the first dog. The hunter said, "You could see it had been in a big fight. It was ripped open." His other two dogs were found in the same condition scattered further along the hillside.
Zeiler said that he never saw the wolves that killed the dogs. By the time his party arrived at the scene, the canines were dead and the wolves were gone. Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) officer, Vivica Crowser, told KPAX news that she believed the attack was sparked by wolves marking their territory:
What we see here is typical wolf behavior when they're defending a territory and reducing competition. So nothing out of the ordinary there, but unfortunately, not a result that you want to see as a dog owner or a hounds-man.
Certain packs of wolves, such as the Apgar Pack in Glacier National Park have a penchant for killing domestic dogs. Kent Laudon, the Wolf Biologist for FWP revealed that a lone wolf encounter last year, may have been with a member of the Apgar pack.
The wolf returned over several nights to feed on an elk carcass that it had killed several days previously and providing an opportunity to grab several stealth shots. Even though the kill was made in an area that also housed horses and goats, the wolf picked the carcass clean and then moved on.
The Missoulian said that Zeiler is the third generation of his family to hunt mountain lions.
"My grandpa started mountain lion hunting 51 years ago," he said. "I grew up with it. Here I was out with a bunch of kids. They don’t need to see that kind of stuff. It can really ruin it for them." Zeiler added that his group with rarely kill a lion.
"We treed 26 this year so far and we’ve killed one," he said. "Pictures are a lot cheaper than taxidermy. You don’t do it to kill. You do it for the sport."