‘I don’t care if it looked like a wolf or not — I’d shoot it again,’ hunter says
By Josee St-Onge, CBC News
A Hinton woman says she’s still in shock after a hunter shot and injured her dog, mistaking it for a wolf.
“I’m very happy that she’s alive, but I still can’t believe it happened,” Bethany Dyck told CBC News.
The hunter said he thought the dog was a wolf and would do it again if necessary.
“A dog comes up to me in a threatening manner, I don’t care if it looked like a wolf or not — I’d shoot it again,” the hunter said. “And I have the right to do that.”
In a news release Wednesday, Hinton RCMP said the incident happened at 3 p.m. Saturday in a rural area near Entrance, off Highway 40.
Police said the hunter was hunting legally and has co-operated with the investigation. The incident remains under investigation but no charges have been laid. CBC is not naming the hunter.
Hikers heard gunshot
Dyck and two friends were hiking on Saturday in the Athabasca Ranch trail area, which is in a public land use zone north of Hinton.
Dyck’s dog Meka, an eight-year-old white Siberian husky with grey markings, was running ahead on a road with another dog when the group heard a gunshot.
The women were following on a trail that was parallel to the road but separated from it by a few metres of forest.
Dyck and her friends immediately ran towards the sound.
“My dog was flailing, basically airborne when I first saw her, then she flopped on the ground,” said Dyck.
Meka was badly hurt and blood was staining the snow around her. With the help of her friends, Dyck used a sock to make a tourniquet on one of the dog’s injured legs.
They transported the dog to a veterinarian’s clinic in Hinton, where they discovered that the bullet had hit two legs.
Meka is expected to recover, but Dyck is concerned that her dog might no longer be able to join her in activities like running trails and long distances.
“She’s been my adventure buddy, and I’m so worried that she won’t be able to do those things again.”
Dog shot at distance of 30 metres
The hunter remained on scene. Dyck said he told her he was hunting grouse, wolf and coyote in the area.
She said the hunter was about 30 metres away from Meka when he pulled the trigger. The dog was wearing an orange collar.
Dyck said the hunter told her he had been following wolf tracks and had not seen or heard the hikers and their dogs approach.
Dyck said Meka weighs less than 20 kilograms, and is much smaller than an adult wolf.
“If you’re hunting wolves, you should know what a wolf looks like,” said Dyck.
Meka may still need surgery
The bullet passed through Meka’s left hind leg and entered her right front leg, fracturing a bone. The dog now wears a cast on her front leg.
Meka was treated by the local vet, but needed further testing in Edmonton. Dyck said her dog might still require surgery to treat her fractured leg bone.
The vet bills have been close to $4,000. Dyck says the hunter originally said he would help cover the cost, but offered less than $1,000. She has refused his offer.
Dyck has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover Meka’s medical expenses and the cost of travel to Edmonton.
Meka is able to walk on her leg cast, but her mobility is greatly reduced.
“It scares me,” said Dyck. “She’s alive and I’m super relieved, but I’m also sad that someone [did that] to her for no reason.”
Dyck isn’t calling for a regulation change, but believes it is important that hunters and other users of the Athabasca Ranch trail area are aware of each others’ presence.
“There are other people there, and you need to remember that.”
Albertans don’t need permits to hunt wolves
Alberta residents can hunt wolves without a permit during big game season, as long as they do not bait the animals. Hunters from out-of-province require a permit.
Chris Watson, the district Fish and Wildlife officer in Hinton, said wolves can be hunted until June 15 in the area where Dyck’s dog was shot.
“From my review of the actions of the individual, there was nothing illegal,” Watson said. “It was just a horrible mistake on his part.”
He said the hunter who shot Dyck’s dog was properly licensed to hunt game birds at the time.