Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hunters lose dogs to wolves

Darby lion hunters Paul Converse and Luke Bush thought they had done everything right when they let Suzy and Jody free on the mountain lion track early Sunday afternoon. The two men spent most of the morning looking for wolf signs around Bertie Lord Creek in the East Fork of the Bitterroot. They hadn’t seen a single track. “If I see a wolf track, I don’t turn out my dogs,” Bush said. “We don’t turn out on old tracks either. We do what we can to make sure the dogs don’t run far. We’ve made adjustments to help protect our dogs.” Both men had lost dogs to wolves before. At about noon, the men released their Walker hounds on a fresh mountain lion track at Jennings Camp. They knew the lion was close and the chase would be short. An hour later, both dogs were dead. The dogs were wearing radio transmitter collars that allowed the men to track them. A mercury switch in the transmitter also let the men know when the dogs turned their heads upward toward a treed lion. “I know they treed the lion,” Converse said. “And then I beeped both dogs again and they weren’t moving. I knew right then what had happened. I knew it was over.” Using headlamps to light the way, Converse and his son found his dog dead close to midnight. “She was chomped top to bottom,” Converse said. “There were wolf tracks everywhere.” About a third of a mile away, they found Bush’s dog dead...Ravalli Republic (Montana)

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