*Editor’s Note* This story and photographs were sent to me and I was asked to publish them.
(This happened Monday September 19th, about 10:30am on Deadhorse Mountain which is about ten miles northeast of Headquarters, Idaho. I had ran a bear in the area the day before… I figure the wolves must have heard the dogs running then and moved into the area. So when I turned them loose the next day the wolves were close enough to intercept and kill them. Shane Richards)
I’m mad. And not just a little mad either. Three of the best bear hounds I’ve ever been lucky enough to own, were killed by federally funded terrorists. Wolves did this while I was bear hunting scarcely ten miles from my house. My dogs were ran down and stretched from end to end. Torn apart with slashing teeth, their skin ripped off in chunks and ate, along with their guts, bones and every other piece they could rip apart before I was able to get to the scene of this ugly crime and run them away. I could smell the dogs before I found them. I could smell the blood and the guts and the death. Ruby had been killed first, there wasn’t much left of her. A bare spine was all that held together her front and her hind end. They’d chewed many of her ribs off, down to the backbone. As for Candy, they’d only just begun on her, tearing into her side and chest cavity, guts and organs pulled out onto the ground. They hadn’t had a chance to eat much of her before I arrived. She was gruesomely contorted, silently conveying the horrible way she died by the teeth of those wolves. I found Josey 700 yards away. The wolves had tore him up really bad but he was still alive. Although he was rushed to the vet, he died of his wounds. So there it is. All of this took place in no more than fifteen or twenty minutes from the time the wolves came in on my dogs while they were trailing a bear. I couldn’t have gotten there any quicker.
As I sat beside my two dead hounds on the hillside I looked out over the beauty of the mountains and the bright blue, cloudless sky. I could hear birds singing and the rustling of the wind as it rolled through the pines. It was a beautiful day but the wolves had put a bloody stain on the land and made these mountains ugly to me. In the Clearwater country of Idaho, where I grew up hunting and running hounds, there is now an uneasiness. All the land can feel it and I can feel it too. This whole scene sickened me and galvanized my deep, deep disdain for the wolf.
Some people seem to think that houndsmen treat their hounds more like a tool than a dog. I assure you that this is not the case. These dogs, that the wolves ate, were part of my family. From the time they were born, they spent a lot of time in the house, sometimes sleeping on the couch or maybe on the dogbed beside my recliner in the living room. I couldn’t move without them making sure they could come along with me. They were glad to see me arrive home from work, and they didn’t like it when I left them home. These hounds were just the same as anyone else’s pet, like your pet, a true part of the family. These dogs didn’t deserve to die in such a gruesome way, being torn apart and eaten while they were still alive. No dog does.
What really makes me angry is those who would say that it’s a risk that all houndsman take when they unclip the dogs; that by turning our hounds loose, we are putting them in harms way and by doing so we somehow value our dogs less than other dog owners. Houndsman, and the the hounds we hunt with, share the same fundamental yearning in our soul to pursue the wild places. You can’t force a hound to chase after a bear or cougar, it’s been bred into them for thousands of years. We all realize that there are many inherent dangers when it comes to bear or cougar hunting, however, prior to 1995, having our hounds killed by wolves was not one of those dangers. It was then that this exotic species was introduced to Idaho. The wolves are killing these dogs only because they are occupying the same space. And, frankly these wolves shouldn’t be in these mountains in the first place. My dogs are dead, and the fault doesn’t lie with the hound or the houndsmen. It lies squarely with the wolves who killed and ate my dogs, and with those who supported, and continue to support, the introduction of this exotic species into an area where it had never roamed before. Never roamed, because the timber wolf that inhabited this area many years ago was a much smaller sub-species than the Canadian grey that we are now plagued with.