Montana Man Kills Two Wolves That Attacked His Goats

"I grabbed my son’s deer rifle and ran across the yard in my skivvies"
Troy Montana wolves were killed after attacking goats.
The man said he didn't want to kill the wolves but that they were attacking his goats. The Western News, courtesy photo.

A man who lives along the Kootenai River in Lincoln County, Montana, shot and killed two wolves that were attacking his goats the other weekend, according to The Western News.

“I had never had an encounter with wolves before this and I’ve spent a lot of time hunting deer and elk here and in northern Idaho,” he told the local newspaper. He asked not to be identified because he thought he might become a target for wolf advocacy groups in the area. He lives with his wife and son.

The first sign of trouble on the family’s property appeared on Saturday morning, July 9, when the son noticed that their pet rabbits had been killed but not eaten. The man said he assumed that a coyote or a feral dog was the culprit.

The next attack occurred the following morning, and this time the the family’s domestic goats were the victims. The man said his wife was the first one to hear the goats screaming during the attack.

“Then I heard it, too, and I grabbed my son’s deer rifle and ran across the yard in my skivvies,” the man explained. He stopped short of the barn and yelled. When he did, he said a light-colored wolf came into view.

“I hesitated for a second, but then I got him in the scope and shot,” he said. “I lost sight of it when the rifle recoiled and then I saw it again. I thought to myself ‘That’s pretty poor shooting for something that’s about 50 feet away, but I shot again and it dropped.’”

It was only after he ran into the barn and saw two gray wolves lying dead that he realized both shots had hit their mark. He also saw that his goats, which he planned to use as pack animals, were still alive. They were taken to the vet but did not require stitches.

“I’ve never even seen a wolf while I was hunting and I spend a lot of time in the woods,” the man added.

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Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Game Warden Sawyer Johnson collected the wolves from the property. He said the wolves were two young males that had likely dispersed from a larger pack in the region, but he added that he would have to confirm this theory with a wildlife biologist.

Both Johnson and the man were surprised at where the wolves were found. While Lincoln County is not a highly developed part of the state, the man explained that they live near several other families—with six other homes located within 150 yards of where the wolves were shot, and approximately 20 homes within a quarter mile.

Gray wolf management remains a hotly debated topic in many areas of the country. In states like Montana, their numbers have continued to increase over the last several years, which has many ranchers and hunters pushing for more lethal control of wolf populations. There are still plenty of concerns about properly managing gray wolves in the West, however, especially around Yellowstone National Park. Meanwhile, states like Colorado are developing plans to re-introduce the species.

The man involved in the incident told reporters that he plans to deter future attacks by putting up a higher fence around his barn. “I didn’t set out to kill these wolves, but they were in my barn trying to kill my goats,” he said. “People need to realize wolves are not these cuddly, furry animals and they are among us.”