I’m just back from a few days of elk hunting in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and woke up this morning to learn about this terrible, irresponsible, unnecessary tragedy, which happened to a guy well-known in Missoula simply as the “Malamute Guy.”
Layne Spence was cross-country skiing on a popular portion of the Lolo National Forest near Lolo Pass when, according to this morning’s Missoulian, this happened:
Layne Spence was skiing with his three dogs on a quiet logging road in Lee Creek when, according to Spence, a rifle shot echoed through the air.
Then, Spence saw his 2-year-old brown and white dog, “Little Dave,” fall down with a shot to a leg.
About 15 yards away from him and his dogs, Spence saw a man in camouflage holding an assault weapon.
“I started screaming ‘Stop, stop,’ and the man kept shooting,” said Spence, 48, and who is often seen walking his dogs around Missoula’s river front. “And he kept shooting.”
“My dog is lying there, dead and I shouted ‘What are you doing?’ and the guy said, ‘I thought it was a wolf.’ ”
After the man allegedly shot Spence’s dog six times, he took off without another word, leaving Spence to deal with the tragedy of his dead dog….
“This doesn’t have to happen,” said an obviously distraught Spence. “Not every big dog is a wolf. These are pets, they all had their collars and lights on, they were all with me the entire time.
“People need to know what a wolf looks like before they start shooting,” he said. “And I was standing right there.
“What if I had a child on a sled, what would have happened if a bullet ricocheted?”
“There are other people who use the woods besides hunters this time of year.”
Make no mistake, I’m seething in anger about this tragedy. Mr. Spence is entirely correct that other people besides just hunters use their public National Forest lands this time of year. What about their rights as tax-paying Americans? They have every right to use their public lands for hiking and crossing country skiing.
One question I have is should the Forest Service allow
assault-rifle carrying wolf “hunters” to roam the woods in the middle of popular, high-use recreation areas? Another question deals with the increased use of assault rifles by some hunters. Should it be allowed? [UPDATE: The Missoulian has updated the story and now says an assault rifle wasn’t used in the shooting of this pet dog.] However, the question still remains. The practice seems to be taking off among some hunters, at least here in Montana, and this year I’ve heard more rapid “herd shooting” with these modified assault rifles than ever before.
UPDATE: In his own words, this is the account of the tragedy posted on Facebook by Layne Spence, owner of the dog:
What is on my mind is the tragedy that has taken place and the miss quotes from the media and the Sheriffs dept. So I am setting the record straight. This is what happened….
I went crosscountry skiing up at Lee Creek campground where I have gone in the past. Knowing it was hunting season I put the bright lights that are on all three of my dogs collars.
After skiing for about 200-300 yards I here “tat”, my dog in front of me, his rear leg is blown off. I scream “no,no,no,stop stop” and as I near my dog who was 15 yards in front of me I hear “tat,tat,tat,tat.”
I look up and there is the “hunter” and I screamed “what have you done?” Screaming hysterically, the man says ” I thought it was a wolf.”
I said “You just killed my dog, you killed one of my kids.”
I started screaming “noooooo.” He started to say something like “can I do something,” not I am sorry.
I said “Do you know what a wolf looks like? You killed my dog.”
The man took off, I just screamed “noooooooo” and tried to put him back together but his leg was torn off and yes 15 yards in front of me and yes he was shot with an ASSAULT rifle, I know I have seen them it was either an AR 15 or AR 14. It was all black had a sound supressor and that was why no big BOOM BOOM semi automatic.
I know guns, I don’t have any but I have shot them before, and yes I have hunted both Bow and Rifle. It is the irresponsible hunters who think they can shoot any animal they see if they are in the woods.
The MT Fish and Wildlife said they couldn’t press any charges because it wasn’t a game animal on the road, it was a domestic animal. What???? Bullshit, So I left my skiis and poles there, put my Little Dave’s bloody and broken body on my shoulder and hiked out to also get my other dogs to safety.
So no charges, I call the police dept who gives me examples of people getting hurt because of the public outcry and are afraid of vigilante violence. But the truth is still one of our rights and so is freedom of speech. I don’t want this guy to get hurt , but something needs to be done…I am heart truly heart broken, everything I do is for my dogs, from where I live, to what I drive, and what I do is predicated on the lives of my dogs…Thank you to everyone who has wished myself and my other dogs Frank and Rex well…Layne