Wolf Watch, by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online! NPS Photo. (This is a captive Yellowstone wolf feeding on a carcass which has been thrown into the wolf enclosure. This wolf is not eating a dog.)

 Wolf Monitor, Current News, Sightings, Legal Action, Wolf Pack Maps, Photos     By News Reporter Cat Urbigkit • Pinedale Online!

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Wolves kill dogs. It’s a simple fact that was overlooked in the wolf reintroduction scheme, but it’s become heartbreakingly too familiar to many ranchers, pet owners and hound hunters in the region.

The environmental impact statement for the wolf reintroduction program had little to say about wolves preying on dogs, other than to note that it would be "a fairly uncommon event" and was expected to be "very infrequent."

That’s no comfort for those who have such an experience.

Because it’s become an all-too-frequent event that wolves kill hunting dogs, each winter, press releases are issued by state management agencies like this one from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, issued Dec. 1, 2006:

Mountain Lion Hunters Need To Be Aware Of Wolves On the Landscape
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Dec. 1, 2006
With the winter season for mountain lion hunting with hounds opening Dec. 1, lion hunters need to be wolf-aware to avoid conflicts between hounds and wolves.

"Wolves look at all domestic dogs as competitors," said Carolyn Sime, FWP wolf coordinator. "Competition for territory, food or a mate drives wolves to be aggressive toward dogs."

Sime said that in Montana only a few cases of wolves killing domestic dogs are reported each year, though some incidents may go unreported.?Mountain lion hunting hounds could risk a wolf attack if houndsmen release them to track lions for long distances in wolf territory.

The risk is compounded by the fact that the Montana lion harvest and chase season is open during the wolf-breeding season, which generally begins in February. At this time, wolves are especially territorial and aggressive toward any canid—wolf, dog or coyote.

While one can’t fully protect lion hunting dogs from wolves, lion hunters in states where wolves are well established have developed the following precautions that can reduce the hunting dog’s exposure to wolves.

* check the area for wolf sign. Don’t release hounds if there are fresh wolf tracks, a recent wolf kill, or wolves howling nearby.
* release hounds only on fresh mountain lion tracks to shorten the chase time.
* use bells on hound collars and yelling periodically to signal a human is with the hounds.
* run more hounds to discourage lone wolves from attacking dogs.
* use radio telemetry tracking collars to help relocate lost dogs quickly.
* howl to see if any wolves in the immediate area respond. If they do, hunt elsewhere.
* use protective dog vests. The vest may shield hunting hounds from a wolf attack long enough for the hunter to reach the dog before a wolf can kill it.
* use spiked collars. Spikes have helped reduce injuries in some wolf attacks on herding and guarding dogs in Montana.
* be aware of wolf pack locations in Montana.

A map is available on the FWP web site. Mountain lion hunters need to keep in mind that federal regulations determine what a lion hunter can do to protect hounds during a wolf encounter.

Regulations differ depending on whether the incident takes place in the endangered area (north half of Montana) or the experimental area (south half of Montana) and whether the encounter takes place on public land or private land.


Using dogs to help protect livestock from predators
2010 Article in Sheep & Goat Research Journal - by Cat & Jim Urbigkit
Expanding large carnivore populations pose new challenges for livestock owners to protect their herds from predators while abiding to the laws that protect some of these predator species which are under federal protection. Some sheep ranchers have used specially-bred livestock protection dogs as a non-lethal tool to help protect their herds from wolf predation. Cat and Jim Urbigkit, ranchers in Big Piney, have co-authored a paper on the use of livestock protection dogs (LPDs), which was recently published in Sheep & Goat Research Journal. “The number of LPDs killed by large predators is increasing,” they wrote. “We conducted a literature review to identify LPD breeds that may be more suited for use around large carnivores, such as gray wolves.” Click on this link for the PDF of this article (8 pages, 1590K)


6/5/07: Avoiding Wolf/Dog Conflicts (By Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!) The Idaho Fish and Game Department has issued a caution to recreationists headed to the mountains with their family dogs, noting that "with the growing wolf population in the backcountry, they may be heading into trouble."IF&G notes that while it's impossible to completely eliminate wolf/dog conflicts in wolf habitat, precautions when walking dogs or hunting with hounds include...(click on link for more on this story)

Idaho Dog Brochure Reducing Conflicts Between Dogs and Wolves in Idaho (253K, 4 page PDF)

Wolves and Hunting Dogs in Wisconsin - A Guide for Reducing Conflict between Wolves and Hunting Dogs (780K, 2 page PDF)


Confirmed wolf depredation on dogs in Northern Rockies (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming):
1995: 4 dogs killed
1996: 2 dogs killed
1997: 4 dogs killed
1998: 5 dogs killed
1999: 15 dogs killed
2000: 11 dogs killed
2001: 6 dogs killed
2002: 9 dogs killed
2003: 6 dogs killed
2004: 9dogs killed
2005: 11dogs killed
Total: 82 dogs killed
Since 1995

It should be noted that these are the absolute minimum numbers of wolf depredations on dogs. Not all occurrences are reported or confirmed. Dog owners are rarely compensated for their losses.


Canine parvovirus has been detected in nearly every North American wolf population, including Alaska. Nearly 100 percent of the wolves handled by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had blood antibodies indicating exposure to canine parvovirus.

Nearly 85 percent of Montana blood samples analyzed in 2005 had blood antibodies indicating non-lethal exposure to canine distemper.

In Wyoming, east of Yellowstone park, 22 percent of nine packs in 2003 and 2004 showed evidence of sarcoptic mange.



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This Wolf page is a special feature of Pinedale Online! www.PinedaleOnline.com. Wolf kill header photo by National Park Service.