Lolo National Forest: “Hunter” Shoots Pet Malamute with Rifle while Dog was 15 yards from Cross-Country Skiing Owner

Dog shot

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

22 Comments

  1. There is a Bass Pro close to me that has a canine stuffed and labeled “gray wolf” that I swear is a malamute. Shorter, stocky, body, short legs, different looking face, but what do I know. I do know I haven’t shot the wrong critter yet, and I also don’t run around with 3 wolf looking dogs loose during wolf hunting season. Not sure what kind of lights the dogs were wearing. Like a Christmas tree for decoration? Maybe someone knew it was a dog but hates dogs?

    For now it pushes all the right buttons. Wolf like dog, camo clad scary black gun carrying killer, wolf season. What’s not to like?

    • Hello Hunter Douglas: Likely the dog was wearing this type of dog-specific light, not “like a Christmas tree for decoration.” (Nice insensitive attempt at humor, though…).

      The owner also reports that his dogs had their dog collars on, and they were with him the entire time. The owner claims the 6 gun shots from the assault rifle took place within 50 feet, on a very popular user-groomed cross-country trail on the Lolo National Forest, so not sure the dogs were running around “loose” in the way you describe.

      Also, the wolf-hunting rifle season in Montana lasts for 6 months, from September 15 until March 15. So are you saying that tax-paying American citizens with dogs should only be allowed to use popular recreation areas 6 months a year? And not between September 15 and March 15? If so, hopefully no dog owners enjoy fall or winter recreational opportunities, eh?

  2. I watched (on television news– the “dash cam” video) 3 New Mexico State cops shoot at a car they KNEW had children in it because the woman driving would not submit to the cops for whatever their reason for stopping her. Over 300 million people in the USA, and everyday is another anomaly in behaviors in a mostly civil society. Not all big dogs are wolves, and not all hunters are blood thirsty indiscriminate killers. Life for every critter is a lottery, a crap shoot, and bad stuff happens every day of the year. Mistaken shootings by hunters happen in Montana annually. Mostly to grizzly bears and sometimes moose. Occasionally it is a person who gets shot. There is no answer but education, if only because you have to believe that the vast, vast majority would not want to shoot your pet, an endangered species, or another person. To not believe that to be true is to imprison yourself to a life of fear and a sort of agoraphobic hiding, your being immersed in unhappiness and despair, all of which is also a threat to a civil society in its own way.

  3. A horse packing guide once told me about the time a hunter shot one of his horses. The hunter emerged from the trees to see the dead horse and said he’d thought it was a deer. The packer took the man’s rifle, smashed its stock on a tree, and threw it into the river. Dunno what else happened or was said. You can’t fix stupid.

  4. I think that hunters should be able to pass a “silhouette test”, before they are able to hunt the selected species. One should never be in a hurry to get “their shot”. I also wonder why a wolf hunter would set up next to a skiing trail. Skis make noise and if the dog was that close, surely the hunter would have heard the sound of the skis.

  5. Reminds me of the almost altercation I had with a hunter out from the east one time. I heard the shot then he came running down the hill breaking branches and knocking into trees in his haste.
    “It’s mine! I shot it and no one else has a right to this critter!”
    Not wishing to argue with a wound up fellow with a firearm I said, “You’ll certainly get no argument from me big guy, but can I take my saddle off?”

    Consider you are going hiking with your three reindeer during caribou season in an area that might just have caribou hunters. Is a light for darkness and a collar going to be sufficient during the day in the woods. Not sure a silhouette is good enough for caribou or wolves. Reintroducing caribou or wolves is going to have consequences for Santa and malamute owners. Rudolph’s light was on his nose. Great fodder for anti’s in any case.

  6. Thank you for posting Mathew-

    I know Layne. We used to travel is some of the same circles many years ago and I know how much he loves his dogs. I’m sorry to hear about his loss. I’m sorry too that he couldn’t find a way to identify the shooter. It seems one of the only ways to help prevent this in the future is a whopping damages award from a tort lawsuit.

  7. The sheriff’s office is dropping the investigation:

    “Spence told the deputy the hunter approached him and said he thought the dog was a wolf. He said the hunter asked if there was anything he could do, but Spence said he was so distraught he told the man to leave. Spence told the deputy the hunter did not make any threatening gestures toward him, and he knew the hunter was shooting at the dog.

    Spence told the deputy the man was wearing camoflage with a hunter orange vest and was pulling an orange sled. He told the deputy the man had a black rifle that appeard to be be semiautomatic, but “didn’t believe it was an assault rifle,” Pavalone said, quoting the report.
    End snip.

    So the black rifle narrative goes blank on you, Matt. And that’s one heck of a different version than the first story in the Missoulian. Orange vest with the camo, orange sled.
    Never mind that this IS hunting season. My evil logger buddies just went to cruise a sale up Haskill Pass and yep, they wore orange and saw LOTS of hunters. Simple common sense.
    If I had a dog like that, of that size and shape and fluffiness, it would be wearing orange or be at home.

    • Thanks for the update Dave. I edited the post to remove the part about an assault rifle being used by the hunter who shot the pet dog. That wasn’t my “narrative,” but was taken directly from the Missoulian’s reporting of the incident.

      Also, at one point today the Missoulian was reporting that MT FWP wasn’t viewing this as a hunting matter, but as a criminal matter that was being referred to the Missoula Co Sheriffs Dept. Then, an hour later, the Missoulian updated an article and Missoula Co Sheriffs Dept said their investigation was already closed (really?) and that this wasn’t a criminal matter, but instead was a hunting matter for MT FWP and the USFS to figure out.

      Now, in another twist the MT FWP and USFS said they will not be investigating the incident further. From the latest Missoulian article:

      The hunter who shot a Missoula man’s dog on the assumption it was a wolf near Lee Creek campground on Sunday committed a tragedy but probably not a crime, according to county and state law enforcement officials.

      “If we have any more information, if the guy comes forward, it will be investigated further,” Missoula County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Paige Pavalone said Monday. “This is an awful accident. But if it doesn’t fit into a state statute that we can enforce, it’s very difficult to investigate. We’re more than willing to help this person. We want to figure out what happened.”

      But beyond taking the initial report from dog owner Layne Spence about the shooting, the sheriff’s office did not see evidence of a crime to be investigated, Pavalone said. The report was passed on to the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Forest Service, whose law enforcement agents reached the same conclusion Monday.

      That’s because, according to the statement Spence gave to law enforcement, the shooter tried to apologize after mistaking the brown-and-white malamute dog for a wolf. Spence told the deputy he told the man to leave him alone and the man left.

      That conversation, according to Pavalone, made it extremely difficult to show criminal intent on the part of the shooter. Without criminal intent, the accidental shooting of a domesticated dog is not a crime. It could trigger a civil lawsuit over the loss of personal property, but the sheriff’s office does not investigate civil disputes.

      Yes, Dave, it IS hunting season. And hunting season with rifles for wolves lasts for 6 months in Montana, from September 15 to March 15. That’s why I posed some of those questions above about what rights non-hunters have to use public lands during hunting season.

      Perhaps some of the big, brave wolf hunters and the “sportsmen’s” groups can run a public eduction campaign letting citizens know that if you will be hiking, camping, skiing, bird watching, photographing or otherwise trying to enjoy your public lands in Montana between September 15 and March 15 (one half of the year) every man, woman, child and pet should be wearing blaze orange or some irresponsible rifle-tooting wolf hunter might mistake a person, or a pet, for one of those scary wolves. Then again, such a PR campaign would likely turn much of the public’s opinion against the totally crazy wolf-hunting regulations we have adopted here in Montana.

      Finally, as a hunter I always find it rather curious that when this type of incident happens some people always want to seem to blame the pet owner. I mean, what responsibility does the hunter have in this case? Isn’t the first rule of ethical hunting to know your target?

      • I’ll agree, rule one is Know Your Flipping Target You Moron.

        This is a sorry situation where both sides are to blame. The dog didn’t deserve to die. Spence shouldn’t have done what he did, and the hunter shouldn’t have fired, either. This should be educational, not a platform for axe-grinding other issues. And Spence did shoo the guy off — I’ll agree with Andy that the hunter is liable, same as if he’d shot Trigger. You fire, you own the result.

        However, when it comes to public education, I look at the anti-trap freaks and figure they are beyond any reach of any kind of educational campaign, because of ideological opposition. Why waste money on “Be Nice, Be Smart, Be Orange” publicity when there’s no law mandating such a thing in open season for non-hunters? And imagine the screams of infringed rights if there were.

        Never mind if the season was year-round, that would take care of the six month problem, wouldn’t it?

        And I’m going to disagree with Gil on segregated areas. We already have those — called PARKS. I didn’t like the Vail Pass “solution” but I’m starting to learn the concept of shared, respectful multiple use is a dying phenomenon.

        • Dave: Here’s another irony with those blaming the dog owner, and not the irresponsible rifle-shooter, because the dog owner didn’t have blaze orange on his pets during wolf-hunting season.

          As you know, the Montana State Legislature passed a law last session allowing wolf hunters to wear ZERO BLAZE ORANGE from December 1 to March 15 (ie 3 1/2 months). It’s spelled out clearly on page 3 in the MT FWP wolf hunting regulations.

          [Honestly, I think there is some confusion about the blaze orange requirement for wolf hunters, because a few weeks ago – during the general big game season – I was hunting along the Rocky Mountain Front and out of thick timber walks this dude dressed head to toe in some fancy new camo outfit, without even a patch of blaze orange anywhere, rifle in hand. He says to me, “I’m wuf huntin'” and I just hike off the other way thinking “You’re an idiot.”]

          Yep, so while the mighty wolf hunters don’t need to wear ANY blaze orange at all for 3 1/2 months of the wolf rifle hunting season, those same people expect all the non-hunting men, women, kids and pets that steps foot on National Forest, BLM or State Land from Dec 1 until March 15 to be decked out in blaze orange, because it’s just “common sense.”

          Again, I must ask what rights do non-hunting Americans have to use their public lands during the entire year? And are those rights of uttered access to all Americans essentially being eroded when states like Montana pass laws allowing rifle-hunting for wolves during 6 months of the year.

          P.S. The Missoulian comment section has some pretty interesting opinions about the pet dog shooting….I thought this one was right on the money.

          crowe – 3 hours ago

          Let me see if I understand this correctly: It’s not criminal to “mis-shoot” something? Not even a fine or license suspension?

          And, it is the responsibility of those NOT HUNTING to avoid getting shot, not the people who are licensed by the state to hunt? However, wouldn’t an expert hunter and outdoorsman be able to recognize what it is they are hunting? “Sorry ma’am, but your horse should’ve been wearing a vest. I thought you were riding an elk.”

          So, to take this a step further, how are wolves supposed to recognize commercial livestock from say, wild animals open for hunting, if we, the superior species, can’t do it?

          Huh.

  8. When property is damaged by negligence, it is an accepted and polite practice to take responsibility by offering to pay financial compensation. I’ll be awaiting the next story reporting that this hunter has done so. However, I won’t be holding my breath.

  9. I don’t think that anyone on either side of the issue has a right to get uptight about this. The hunter was irresponsible as was the dog owner.

    When I lived in Louisiana many years ago, a woman dressed in hunter’s orange from head to toe sitting at the base of a tree smoking a cigarette was shot dead. The news is full of enough of these kinds of stories that anyone ought to know not to go into areas where hunters are loose. If the hunter misses a legal target you are at risk even if you are out of sight. Hunters are wound up very tight, the anticipation and the thrill of the kill is so great that it renders some hunters at severe risk of heart attack. It is just not smart to be in the woods when you have no idea what kind of hunter might be there nor when you don’t know where the hunters are. It’s Russian roulette.

    I am terribly sorry for the loss of a wonderful dog but I find the dog owner somewhat irresponsible for not having his dogs in hunter’s orange. I would not have had them there in the first place. My photography work is limited to non-hunting areas like state parks out of love for my dogs, out of respect for the rights of the hunters, out of concern for the impatience and foolishness of someone who isn’t a responsible hunter and out of the knowledge that stray bullets kill.

    Insisting on taking my dogs where they might be at risk is like approaching an intersection and insisting on the right of way when the other person is failing to yield as signage dictates.

    Finally, it seems to me that this is an opportune time for a group to petition the USFS to divide their forests into hunting and non-hunting areas. That way, only the hunters would be at risk of catching a stray bullet.

  10. 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

  11. He knows guns? He’s shot them?
    A suppressor is not yet legal for hunting in Montana. That’s for next session. If that guy had a can (which is required to be registered with the Feds), he’s in big trubble — and there’s no such thing as an AR 14. More likely a muzzle brake or flash hider.
    Sound from firearms is logarithmic, the square of distance. The BOOM from firing or being on the line with a buddy becomes a pop PDQ the further you get away, never mind the sonic crack. And in snowy woods, the attenuation factor is remarkable.
    Look, I understand Layne’s emotionalism here. I was pretty attached to my dogs when I had them. And we’ve all had our encounters with real Bubbas — there are a lot of dummies with guns, which is a direct function of the number of dummies in the general populace.
    That’s why I wear block fluorescents during hunting season, and even fluorescent camo patterns when I’m varminting in the other seasons.
    I hope the dummy hunter gets with the dummy dog guy and squares things away — and I think that should be done quietly, yet I have the sneaking suspicion that some will try to make even MORE of a spectacle if the guy mans up. Paying for a nice new puppy would be the right thing to do.

  12. Matt,

    I’m not trying to be insensitive here…this is a horrible tragic story. I’m pretty attached to my dog(s) and feel for the guy – really. Western MT is a baaaad place in hunting season though. I’d have been duded up in blaze orange and had my dog(s) covered in enough pink ribbon that a blind person could see them. Sad that it has to come to that, but it is western MT…”user conflictville”. That’s why I don’t live there anymore.

    To your original question about should the FS allow this type of activity in a “high use” recreation area? If memory serves, the section line between FS and Plum Creek is just past the campground on the Lee Creek Road. I flagged it in back in ’96 when I worked for Plum Creek. It is possible that this tradgic incident occurred on or adjacent to PCTC ownership. Regardless, the Lee Creek road traverses a considerable amount of checkerboard ownership. Lolo Pass ski area is a scant 5 miles or so up the road, where (typically) hunters aren’t going to go because there’s too much recreation use or because it costs money to park and use the “high use” area, although I don’t think the parking stickers are enforced yet. Oh, but they don’t allow dogs either.

    So should the FS be responsible for regulating wolf “hunters” you ask? (and why the quotes around “hunters” BTW?)…I think that would be the charge of the MTFWP wouldn’t it? Why ask if the FS is somehow culpable in this incident? Didn’t the MTFWP reverse a decision to ban wolf hunting outside yellowstone last year because of process problems? What about the checkerboard ownership? The Lee Creek road wasn’t designed as a destination recreation area….it accesses the same “heavily logged”, weed infested PCTC land you made an issue of during the Lolo fire. Kind of ironic that a lot of western MT folks use that same land for cross/backcountry skiing in the winter isn’t it?

    Again, I’m not trying to discount the gravity of the incident, but you loosely tied your disdain for an activity (“big bad” wolf hunters/hunting) to a land management question, to which I’m responding. I won’t debate wolf anything here though. I don’t think the FS has any business regulating “hunting” activities on their lands outside of obvious developed rec areas….especially regulating hunting of one species vs another (would you say that deer is off limits too? – more deer hunters are involved in accidents every year than any other group) That seems to be the purview of the State FWP and flirting dangerously with that whole arbitary and capricious standard.

    • Hello JZ: Your comment regarding the ownership of the land where the wolf ‘hunter’ shot and killed Mr. Spence’s dog right before his very eyes contains so many factual errors as to render that part of your comment meaningless. Sorry, but true.

      Visit the the State of Montana’s official property ownership database to check out the current land ownership of the area for yourself. I’ve spoken directly with Mr. Spencer and the shooting/killing of his dog took place within 200 yards of the Lee Creek Campground turnoff, which is located near the section line of Sec 18 and Sec 19. As you can clearly see in the map below, that entire area is under the jurisdiction of the US Forest Service, Lolo National Forest. In fact, the only private land within dozens of square miles of that area is right around Lolo Hot Springs. The “checkboard” Plum Creek Timber CO lands in the area were part of the Montana Legacy Project and were transferred to the USFS about 5 years ago.

      Also, I hate to point out another factual error in your comment, JZ, but regarding hunting wolves around Yellowstone National Park: It was the Montana Legislature (not MT FWP) that passed a law specifically prohibiting a no-hunting zone near the Park.

      When I spoke with Layne he confirmed that all three of his dogs were wearing collars with tags and bright lights. In fact, he showed Little Dave’s (The dog that was killed a few yards before him) collar to the media to show how bright it really is. Unfortunately that light wasn’t as bright as original, since now it’s covered in dried blood. So, JZ, you go with pink ribbons on your dogs during hunting season and Mr. Spence chose to go with lights on the dogs collars.

      Also, keep in mind that the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department and MT FWP closed their “investigation” of this incident within a few hours. Both law enforcement agencies also refused to go up to the actual site where the dog was shot and killed with Mr. Spence (who’s cross-country skis and poles apparently are still sitting up there, since he walked back to his truck carrying his dead dog).

      Bottom Line: The very first rule of using any gun – hunting or not – is “know what you’re shooting at.” Whether it’s your first BB gun or a semi-auto 30.06, you don’t pull the trigger unless you know what you’re shooting at, whether there’s any danger of hitting anything beyond what you’re shooting at, and whether it’s safe to shoot.

      Hunters also have an obligation to not endanger the public. The public has no obligation to stay out of the way of hunters. Hunters do not have any more right to use public land during hunting season than non hunters. Hunters do, however, have the responsibility to safely handle their weapons, follow the hunting rules and regulations, and not put people and non-game/non-target species at risk of injury or death by their actions.

      Finally, here is a picture of Mr. Spence’s dogs. Little Dave, the dog killed, is the very fluffy, orange-ish dog on the left of the picture. He looks more like an Ewok than a wolf, if you ask me.

  13. Thanks for the fact check Matt, I stand corrected, no problem. Like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve spent any time in the Forest over there. Glad to see the land went to the FS in the Legacy project.

    Not disputing any of the hunting/ shooting stuff either. We’re in full agreement. And yes, the dog looks like an Ewok….doesn’t even resemble a wolf at all, in fact none of them do. Gotta wonder how many people really know what a wolf looks like up close?

    The point to my arguement (corrected facts aside) was that even though this is an extremely unfortunate incident, I don’t think the FS has any business regulating one type of hunting vs. another on NFS lands. I’d be in full support of safety zones though, in fact many states have them, not sure about MT though. The shooter in this situation is a flippin idiot that should have been prosecuted. I don’t think one idiot should represent other “hunters” either.

    • Ewok? Is that like a Wookie?
      Eric, if a log truck hit you when you were parked on the road, there would be contributory negligence if there was reasonable cause to believe the road was being used by trucks. Like a Log Trucks sign, or simply being on an NFD road of any class. Would you park in a lane of traffic on a U.S. Highway? Nope.
      Again, there is bilateral contributory — um — imperfect conduct by both parties here.
      And I just have to comment on the Montana Legacy Project….probably the biggest corporate welfare ripoff of the past decade in Montana. The prices paid for the ground were no less than three times, up to seven or ten times, the actual net present value.
      PCL wanted to get rid of this stuff, TNC wanted Uncle and rich people to buy it to be managed their way — when the optimal solution given recent trends would have been for the STATE OF MONTANA to buy the mowed off garbage at NET PRESENT VALUE. Why? Three reasons: First, states do the best job of balancing profit with habitat, at least in the Northwest. Second, state management is most accountable to the people who either suffer the consequences or reap the benefits of management decisions. Third, paying true NPV would have Montana grabbing a future for itself and making an investment that would pay off in the long run.

  14. He needs to file a civil action and let a good lawyer go to work on this. The shooting was obviously negligent. The shooter has injured not only his property, but if it were me, it would have incurred emotional pain and suffering as well. I, for one, would be loathe to ever recreate on the public lands with my dogs again after experiencing something like Layne went through simply due to the psychological imprint. I regret I’m not bar certified yet because I would take his case pro bono in a heart beat.

    • Furthermore – and I disclaim giving any legal advice and should probably review my tort law before saying this, but here goes – the shooting is analogous to a hit and run. Let’s say I’m sitting in my car and a logging truck comes rolling down a Forest Service road and smashes into me. The driver gets out and asks if there is anything he can do. I say, “yeah buddy, show me your insurance and don’t go anywhere until law enforcement arrives.” At which point he gets in his truck and leaves. Will anyone really contend with a straight face that there is no DUTY to investigate here?

      • Update- Upon further investigation it seems there really is very little legal recourse. There is simply no way to get anyone to act in order to catch the guy. In criminal matters there is great prosecutorial discretion (which rules out the hit & run theory). As far as getting the Forest Service to act, again, unless there is a statutory source that compels action then Norton v. SUWA holds. Federal tort claims act? No again. State law governs negligence, which would throw the action back at the Sheriff’s department who has wide prosecutorial discretion.

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