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Wolves: Poaching attempt taints sanctuary

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I have a cabin on 40 acres in the mountains east of Helmville. I retreat to my property for the peace and calm that is found in the woods. Unfortunately, this calm was shattered in a most disturbing way on the afternoon of Nov. 15.

A friend and I were walking our dogs on my land when suddenly a deafening rifle shot fired in our direction reverberated through both of us. The double percussion (the muzzle blast and the bullet hitting a tree just 20 feet from us, close to where our dogs were trotting) scalded us with fear - another shot might follow. As we scrambled for cover, we saw a green SUV with a trailer hauling an ATV on the access road above us. The driver was wearing hunter orange. What was most disturbing about the incident is that the shooter just drove off after spotting us without even checking to see if anyone was hit. Thank goodness none in our party was injured or killed.

We searched the scene where the shot was fired. It was clear that the shooter did not even get out of the vehicle. We deduced that the intended target was likely our medium-size, wolf-like black dog who had been ahead of us. Mistaking our dog for a wolf, the shooter took aim and fired, fortunately missing the target. It is illegal to shoot from a vehicle, illegal to shoot protected wolves, and illegal to shoot on private property without permission. My haven is no longer safe.

The current law-breaking, tacit approval of killing wolves on sight, from officials is partly to blame. Wolves are not the problem. It's just a matter of time until this savage party causes real human tragedy. This is intolerable.

Dave Taylor, Missoula

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