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Dog Shot by Hunter, FWP Advises Caution During Season

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MISSOULA -

A Missoula man's dog is allegedly shot by a hunter, prompting Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials to advise winter recreators to take precautions before heading outdoors.

Layne Spence said he was cross country skiing with his three malamutes near Lee Creek Campground Sunday afternoon, when a hunter killed his smallest dog, named Little Dave.

"I heard a shot and boom, I look at Little Dave and half of his leg was blown off."

Spence told authorities the hunter fired several more times, even though he motioned and yelled for him to stop.

"I said, don't you know what a wolf looks like, I said you just killed my dog -- this is like one of my kids," he said.

Spence said the hunter did approach him after shooting, and told him he thought Little Dave was wolf, and asked if there was anything he could do to help.

But, Spence said his dog was wearing a collar with a light, and because he was upset, he told the hunter to leave.

He added, "You look through your sights, you know what you're looking at, and I don't see how on earth that someone thought he was a wolf."

But, Sheriff's officials said there's no evidence of criminal intent, because the hunter shot the dog thinking it was a wolf.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said the incident isn't considered poaching either, because the dog was a pet, not a game animal in season.

"There's a little bit of risk anytime you go out anywhere, just to yourself or to your pets," said Vivica Crowser, of FWP.

Crowser said lots of people are out recreating this time of year, as the first snow begins to stick at higher elevations, and many bring their pets.

"Keeping them close by helps to lower that risk, whether that be just under voice control or on a leash."

Crowser said people who aren't hunting aren't required to wear hunter orange, but bright, reflective gear is advised.

"So, throwing on some hunter orange or putting it on an animal, a dog, that's running around with you can help lower risk," Crowser said.

Rifle season for wolves opened September 15 and runs trough March 15.

It is unknown whether or not the hunter had a wolf hunting permit, because authorities never made contact with him.

FWP and the sheriff's office have since closed the investigation.

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