Elk hunter shoots, kills wolf in ‘self-defense’

It's the first reported incident of someone killing a wolf in self-defense since 1990s

FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2011, file photo, a female Mexican gray wolf at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central N.M. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 38-year-old elk hunter shot and killed a wolf in self-defense while hunting in Union County — marking the first reported incident a wolf has been shot in an act of self-defense since the animal returned to the state in the late 1990s, according to officials.

Oregon State Police said the hunter, from Clackamas, reported that he had shot the animal Friday, Oct. 27.

According to police, the hunter said he had been elk hunting alone when he noticed some type of animal moving around him. He then saw what he thought were 3 coyotes. One of them began to run directly at him while another made its way around him.

The hunter told police he started to focus on the one running directly at him — screaming at it before shooting it one time. The animal died from the single shot, which also scared off the other 2.

The hunter was still unsure if what he killed was a coyote, so he returned to the location later with his friends and came to the conclusion that the animal was a wolf.

Authorities, including the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, investigated the incident and determined it was an act of self-defense. According to the investigation, the wolf was 27 yards away when the hunter fired his gun.

Based on the evidence, no charges will be filed against the hunter.

ODFW said the wolf was an 83-pound female associated with the OR30 pair of wolves known to travel northeast Oregon.

Roblyn Brown, ODFW acting wolf coordinator, said encounters between wolves and humans are “rare.”

“They will usually avoid humans and leave the area when they see, hear or smell people close by,” Brown said.

Brown also said if you’re carrying a firearm, you can fire a warning shot into the ground in an attempt to scare the animal away.

It’s unlawful to kill a wolf in Oregon, except in defense of human life and in certain instances when a wolf is seen attacking livestock.