Observer staff

An Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife trooper and an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist responded to the report of an elk hunter, who had self-reported shooting a wolf in Union County last Saturday. The two responded to the hunter's camp in the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit.

The hunter, a 38-year-old male, from Clackamas, told the trooper he had been hunting elk alone, when he repeatedly noticed some type of animal moving around him. A short time later, the hunter observed three of what he assumed would be coyotes. He said at one point one of them began to run directly at him, while another made its way around him.

The hunter stated he focused on the one running directly at him. He began to scream at it, and fearing for his life shot it one time. He said what he still believed to be a coyote died from the single shot. He stated that after the shot the other two disappeared out of sight.

The hunter said he returned to his camp and told fellow hunters what had occurred. He said he was still uncertain if what he shot was a coyote. He said they returned to the location and came to the conclusion it was a wolf. The hunter then notified ODFW and OSP.

"Dangerous encounters between wolves and people are rare, as are such encounters between people and cougars, bears and coyotes," said Roblyn Brown, ODFW acting wolf coordinator. "They will usually avoid humans and leave the area when they see, hear, or smell people close by. If you see a wolf or any other animal and are concerned about your safety, make sure it knows you are nearby by talking or yelling to alert it to your presence. If you are carrying a firearm, you can fire a warning shot into the ground."

Further investigation at the site of the shooting indicated the hunter was 27 yards from where he shot and where the wolf died. The wolf was seized and later released to ODFW for examination. The Union County District Attorney's Office was consulted regarding the investigation and based upon the available evidence the case will not be prosecuted as this is believed to be an incidence of self-defense.

It is unlawful to kill a wolf in Oregon, except in defense of human life and in certain instances involving wolf depredation of livestock.

According to ODFW, this incident marks the first time that a wolf has been reported shot in self-defense in Oregon since they began returning to the state in the late 1990s.

ODFW examined the wolf shot and determined it was an 83-pound female associated with the OR30 pair of wolves occupying the Starkey and Ukiah WMUs in Northeast Oregon in Union and Umatilla counties. Initial examination does not indicate that the wolf was a breeding female, but the wolf's DNA will be analyzed to confirm this.

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