An Oregon elk hunter self-reported shooting and killing a wolf last Thursday morning after it approached to within 20 yards and left him fearing for his safety.
The incident occurred November 2 in Grant County southeast of Seneca during the North Malheur River No. 1 controlled bull elk season. It remains under investigation but authorities say the hunter did the right thing in alerting state officials and appears to have “acted reasonably” in defending himself.
“Preliminary investigation revealed the hunter acted reasonably in shooting the wolf for personal safety and appropriately notified officials immediately upon shooting the wolf,” stated the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division
According to an agency press release, the hunter was tracking an elk herd on a ridge in the Malheur National Forest when the wolf appeared out of the timber in front of him.
“The hunter stated he yelled at the wolf and waved his arms in an effort to scare the wolf away,” OSP reports. “The wolf then reportedly looked at the hunter from a distance of approximately 30 yards and started coming directly toward the hunter.”
“The hunter stated he feared for his safety and fired one round, striking the wolf and killing it instantly,” troopers say. “The approximate distance from the hunter’s location to the wolf carcass was 18 yards.”
Afterwards, another wolf came out of the woods and the hunter fired into the air, scaring it off.
He then called ODFW to report the incident and, after OSP Fish and Wildlife Division was looped in, a sergeant, senior fish and wildlife trooper and district wildlife biologist went to the scene and spoke to the hunter.
“The hunter properly followed instructions and left the scene intact. The hunter then voluntarily led OSP and ODFW to the scene on USFS property, southeast of Seneca,” OSP reports.
The area appears to be in the range of the Logan Valley Pack. Wolves here were federally delisted in 2011 but remain under state protections. Outside of defending human life and protecting livestock under specific circumstances, it is illegal to shoot a wolf in Oregon and is punishable by up to $6,250 fine, $7,500 in civil restitution and a year in jail.
Wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare, but wolves’ curiosity can be unnerving, especially at close range.
A final report will be sent to Grant County District Attorney’s Office for review, OSP states.