Montana “Hunter” Shoots and Kills Man’s Pet Malamute Because WOLVES!

by lizard

I’ve lived in Missoula for 13 years and in that time I’ve become familiar with a handful of Missoula characters who, while I don’t know them personally, I recognize because I always see them around. Some of these characters are no longer around, like Red, the old man who sat in a chair on Main Street and shouted at people as they walked by, and Tommy the Leprechaun. Others are still around, like the couple who seem to be at every Caras Park event, dancing all herky-jerky to whatever music is playing, like they’re having a slow-motion seizure.

One of these characters I’ve known as simply Malamute Guy. I always see him downtown or along the river trail with his dogs.

Malamute Guy’s real name is Layne Spence. I know that because there is an article in today’s paper about an asshole hunter who shot and killed Layne’s youngest dog, Little Dave, yesterday afternoon near Lolo pass:

Layne Spence was skiing with his three dogs on a quiet logging road in Lee Creek when, according to Spence, a rifle shot echoed through the air.

Then, Spence saw his 2-year-old brown and white dog, “Little Dave,” fall down with a shot to a leg.

About 15 yards away from him and his dogs, Spence saw a man in camouflage holding an assault weapon.

“I started screaming ‘Stop, stop,’ and the man kept shooting,” said Spence, 48, and who is often seen walking his dogs around Missoula’s river front. “And he kept shooting.”

“My dog is lying there, dead and I shouted ‘What are you doing?’ and the guy said, ‘I thought it was a wolf.’ ”

After the man allegedly shot Spence’s dog six times, he took off without another word, leaving Spence to deal with the tragedy of his dead dog.

If you have any information about this despicable “hunter”, please call crimestoppers: 721-4444.

At the very least, this person should never be allowed to “hunt” again. He should also have his guns taken away from him, for life.

Layne, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  1. Steve W

    Too sad. What a coward.

  2. Jack Ruby

    He should have put an orange bandana around his neck.

  3. Torrey Voigt

    This is terrible! The same thing happened to my Malamute about 10 years ago out by Frenchtown…This madness has got to stop!

  4. Torrey Voigt

    Reblogged this on Montana Photographer.

  5. What a terrible, irresponsible, unnecessary tragedy. My heart goes out to Layne Spence. He is entirely correct that other people besides just hunters use their public National Forest lands this time of year. What about their rights as tax-paying Americans? According to the report, the dogs had collars, lights and were about 50 feet from the owner on a popular user-groomed cross country ski trail on the Lolo National Forest when the camo-wearing, assault rifle toting coward fired off 6 shots.

    Keep in mind that the wolf-hunting rifle season in Montana lasts for 6 months, from September 15 until March 15. Wolf hunters can kill up to 5 wolves a season and can use unethical electronic calls to lure animals in.

    This situation is entirely thanks to the efforts of Senator Tester’s anti-ESA wolf-rider and the subsequent actions of the Montana Legislature, both of whom were cheered on by the politically-connected “Sportsmen’s” groups such as Montana Wildlife Federation and the dark-monied, Cox-ad running Montana Hunters and Anglers.

    Here are a few questions:

    Should tax-paying American citizens, who happen to own dogs, effectively only be allowed to use popular public land recreation areas 6 months a year? And not between the 6 month long wolf rifle hunting season from September 15 to March 15?

    Another question is should the U.S. Forest Service or Montana FWP allow assault-rifle carrying wolf “hunters” to roam the woods in the middle of popular, high-use public recreation areas?

    Another question deals with the increased use of assault rifles by some hunters. Should it be allowed? The practice seems to be taking off among some hunters, at least here in Montana, and this year I’ve heard more rapid “herd shooting” of elk with these modified assault rifles than ever before.

    • lizard19

      de-listing wolves was disgusting pandering, and Tester is wholly responsible.

      and speaking of disgusting, the few commenters who place any blame on Layne are actually disparaging hunters.

  6. I saw this article today as well. I didn’t think I knew who that was until you mentioned him walking downtown a lot and then I thought back to the guy I always crossed for years on the Higgins bridge. And now I’m thinking that huge, older dog he had was probably the one that got shot. Sad day in Missoula.

  7. I am borrowing my own response, posted yesterday at a wildlife blog, to offer here and would add that it was a matter of when, not if, a tragedy like this happened given the gun worship culture and the wolf hatred culture (or at least the eagerness to see them dead) that now prevails.

    Years ago we met friends at Lee Creek for an afternoon of snowshoeing with our three (combined) dogs. Little did we know that trappers had laid snares in the area. We kept our dogs within sight and thankfully no mishaps occurred, but shortly afterward other dogs were snared. Subsequently, signs were posted about the danger of traps/snares at this popular skiing/snowshoeing area. The Forest Svc. even notes that winter recreation opportunities are available here

    The point is, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that a bullet zinging through the dense woods toward a wolf, phantom wolf, or companion dog couldn’t miss its intended victim and strike a skier or snowshoer. Not that I’m minimizing the brutal death of this dog (certainly I’m not!), but the apologists for the blood sports will find reasons to justify it, even if it’s the “one bad apple” defense. (There sure are a lot of bad apples out there.)

    Why doesn’t the Forest Svc. close off these popular recreation locations to killing “sports”? Why is the onus on the benign user– “skier beware”? “snowshoer beware”? Especially now, with a wolf killing season that spans six months, where the hell are we safe?

  8. Big Swede

    Owning dogs I feel for Layne. But seriously, taking a dog out for a run, in the woods, which resembles a wolf, during hunting season has to border on stupidity.

    Either put the dog on a leash or get one of those bright orange dog vests.

    • lizard19

      so what you’re telling me is Montana hunters are too stupid to figure out what wolves look like, so for 6 months out of the year dog owners need to protect their pets from stupid, trigger happy hunters.

      • And keep in mind that from Dec 1 until March 15 (3 1/2 months) rifle-toting wolf-hunters are allowed to be out in the woods dressed head to toe in camo, with ZERO blaze orange requirements. Look at the MT FWP wolf hunting regs on page 3.

        Yet, these same wolf hunters expect every man, woman, child and pet that wants to enjoy some recreation on their public lands to be decked out in blaze orange so they don’t get shot.

        First rule of hunting is to be 100% positive that you know what you are shooting. Fact is, when you hunt wolves out of hatred and fear, that first rule is often ignored, with tragic consequences.

        • Big Swede

          And keep in mind Matt that there’s many varmints that also can be hunted 365 days a year w/o orange clothing (coyotes and prairie gophers come to mind) on state and federal lands which are shot safely w/o incident.

          Now if you were to breed a prairie dog with a wiener dog and take him out running wildly in eastern MT expect him to get shot.

          • lizard19

            and expect dog owners who pack to protect their personal property by shooting back, right? arm everyone and shoot at everything, right?

  9. UPDATE: In his own words, this is the account of the tragedy posted on Facebook by Layne Spence, owner of the dog:


    What is on my mind is the tragedy that has taken place and the miss quotes from the media and the Sheriffs dept. So I am setting the record straight. This is what happened….

    I went crosscountry skiing up at Lee Creek campground where I have gone in the past. Knowing it was hunting season I put the bright lights that are on all three of my dogs collars.

    After skiing for about 200-300 yards I here “tat”, my dog in front of me, his rear leg is blown off. I scream “no,no,no,stop stop” and as I near my dog who was 15 yards in front of me I hear “tat,tat,tat,tat.”

    I look up and there is the “hunter” and I screamed “what have you done?” Screaming hysterically, the man says ” I thought it was a wolf.”

    I said “You just killed my dog, you killed one of my kids.”

    I started screaming “noooooo.” He started to say something like “can I do something,” not I am sorry.

    I said “Do you know what a wolf looks like? You killed my dog.”

    The man took off, I just screamed “noooooooo” and tried to put him back together but his leg was torn off and yes 15 yards in front of me and yes he was shot with an ASSAULT rifle, I know I have seen them it was either an AR 15 or AR 14. It was all black had a sound suppressor and that was why no big BOOM BOOM semi automatic.

    I know guns, I don’t have any but I have shot them before, and yes I have hunted both Bow and Rifle. It is the irresponsible hunters who think they can shoot any animal they see if they are in the woods.

    The MT Fish and Wildlife said they couldn’t press any charges because it wasn’t a game animal on the road, it was a domestic animal. What???? Bullshit, So I left my skiis and poles there, put my Little Dave’s bloody and broken body on my shoulder and hiked out to also get my other dogs to safety.

    So no charges, I call the police dept who gives me examples of people getting hurt because of the public outcry and are afraid of vigilante violence. But the truth is still one of our rights and so is freedom of speech. I don’t want this guy to get hurt , but something needs to be done…I am heart truly heart broken, everything I do is for my dogs, from where I live, to what I drive, and what I do is predicated on the lives of my dogs…Thank you to everyone who has wished myself and my other dogs Frank and Rex well…Layne

    • Police are afraid of vigilante justice. Well, I guess we’ve got a history of that here but it just kind of seems like a flimsy excuse to do nothing, really.

      • Jack Ruby

        Seems what they are saying is that there is no crime they can charge the guy with or that they otherwise don’t have the jurisdiction to do so. So to charge him with a crime would not be legal and would be doing something for the sake of doing something. He probably should have had some orange bandanas on those dogs. I wouldn’t take dogs out into the woods this time of the year myself…too many blood thirsty yahoos high on Busch lite out there.

  10. Jack Ruby

    Did I get banned? This is the third time Ive tried to comment on this thread.

  11. Jack Ruby

    Yet somehow that comment went through. Curious.

  12. lizard19

    I had to free up a few comments from the spam box.

  13. Big Swede

    Here’s Renna saying goodbye. (note the florescent collar and leash)

  14. Pogo Possum

    This is sad story and I empathize with Mr. Spence and fully understand his pain and anger . However, before people form a lynch mob, they need to recognize that the “facts” as reported by authorities after interviewing Mr. Spence paint a very different and continually changing story from the “facts” initially reported in the Missoulian and do not warrant the individual who shot the dog to be called a “dangerous piece of trash”.

    Ultimately it is a hunter’s responsibly to positively identify his target before shooting. That did not happen in this situation. The hunter made a mistake, possibly understandably……..possibly not. It appears that he stepped forward to Mr. Spence and took responsibility of his actions and only left when Spence ordered him to leave.

    For what it is worth, one of my friends who owns a business downtown told me he is very familiar with Mr. Spence and his dogs and says kind words about him. He also says Mr. Spence told him on several occasions that his dogs are part wolf. I have seen Mr. Spence and his dogs, too on occasion. Again, a nice fellow. But I can also see how someone could mistake one of his dogs for a wolf under the right conditions in the woods. That doesn’t excuse the hunter. But the reality is sometimes people make mistakes and may be liable for civil damages. That doesn’t mean they are a “dangerous piece of trash”.

    • lizard19

      I can understand killing wolves in defense of person and property, but I think anyone who hunts wolves is despicable.

      I agree “piece of trash” is going too far, though, so I did change that language.

  15. Craig Moore

    Lizard, it was very unfortunate. Ask yourself this, “Is it reasonable for a wolf hunter to expect a pet Malamute, very wolf like in size, coloration, and markings, to be in a known hunting area?” Here’s the next question, “Should the dog’s owner have been more careful in flagging his dogs in orange when taking them into a known hunting area?” Accidents happen when precautions are not taken. BTW, there is a different take on the story.

    As Spence huddled over the body of his dead pet, the unidentified shooter approached him and told Spence he thought the dog was a wolf. According to Spence, the man asked if there was anything he could do. Spence he was distraught and screamed at the man to leave him alone…

    “Based on the statements provided by both parties, it was determined that there was no malicious or purposeful intent to cause harm or injury to a domesticated animal on behalf of the hunter,” the statement read. “The Missoula County Attorney’s Office concurs with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office that the facts of the incident do not fit the elements of any criminal statutes contained in Montana law …”

    The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the circumstances do not “constitute any egregious violation of Montana hunting regulations.”

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