Husky shot by hunter while walking with its owner in western Alberta
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original version of this article incorrectly said only some wolves can be hunted without a licence while hunting other kinds of wolves does require a licence. It has since been corrected to say that at certain times of year, and in certain locations, residents can hunt wolves without a licence. Non-residents can hunt wolves as well but require a licence. Also, Dyck originally said the hunter was about 30 feet ahead of Meka when she was shot. She later told Global News he was actually 30 metres away from the dog. The article has been updated to reflect the new information.
An investigation is underway after a hunter mistook a dog for a wolf and shot it in a rural area in west-central Alberta, the RCMP said in a news release on Thursday.
Police said at about 3 p.m. on Saturday, officers were dispatched to an area off Highway 40 North near the community of Entrance, Alta. They said the dog — a husky — was hiking off leash with its owner when it was shot by a man who was “lawfully hunting in the area at the time.”
The dog, Meka, belongs to Bethany Dyck, a 32-year-old mother who lives in Hinton, Alta. Dyck said she was out for a walk in the Athabasca Public Land Use Zone, a recreational area with hiking trails but where hunters are also allowed to hunt, along with two friends and another dog.
“We were turning back to the truck where we were parked, we were probably half-a-kilometre from the truck when… the dogs were running and playing ahead of us, and they came out on the road — Meka came out on the road — and was instantly shot,” Dyck said.
“She made it 10 to 15 feet from where the trail exited to the spot where she was shot on the road,” she added.
“I ran through the trees, onto the road, and saw her flailing — obviously shot… I raced over to her, there was blood, she had defecated and I just grabbed her. We could see the hunter that shot her, he was about 30 metres ahead of her and he was walking towards us.
Dyck told Global News the hunter apologized for what happened and said he thought Meka was a wolf when he fired his gun. She said the hunter said he would contribute to Meka’s vet bills and gave her his number. She told Global News the hunter seemed defensive, which she attributed to him making “probably one of the biggest mistakes of his life.”
Dyck’s friend pulled out a sock to tie a tourniquet around Meka’s leg and they drove to an after-hours veterinarian in Hinton.
“The whole drive I was just watching Meka’s chest move up and down… I had no clue where the bullet had entered, I didn’t know if it had exited, I had no idea of the damage that was done.
“I was just thinking, ‘Are her lungs filling up with blood? Is she slowly dying in my arms?'”
Meka’s leg was injured but the bullet exited her body. Her leg has been immobilized with something similar to a cast and a veterinarian said she suffered significant bone damage and that she may need surgery.
View a photo gallery of Meka below:
Dyck said Meka is at home and she’s just glad her dog survived the shooting but that it’s been hard on Meka. An initial quote from a vet for what Meka’s treatment will cost was between $6,500 and $7,500, according to Dyck. She said the hunter has now offered to pay $1,000 but that isn’t enough.
“We have a two-year-old child, we have our own expenses and he shot my dog. I don’t understand… I’m now asking my friends, family and strangers to pay for his mistake.”
Dyck describes Meka as “the best sidekick I could have asked for” and “my ultimate adventure buddy” and hopes bringing attention to this story will help to prevent something similar from happening to other dog owners.
“I just know that if someone is out hunting big game, and they misidentify a species… there’s a fine,” she said. “If you’re hunting wolves, you don’t have a tag first of all, and then if you misidentify a dog as a wolf, there’s no fine. And I just don’t understand how that makes sense.
“I expect hunters to be educated and this man was not when it came to identifying my dog as a wolf.”
Dyck said her partner is a hunter and her family hunts so she is “cognizant of hunting season.” Normally, she said she ties a bright orange flag to Meka’s collar during hunting season but said since hunting season for most big game is over already, she hadn’t yet replaced a flag that she’d lost. She said it slipped her mind that wolf hunters could be out.
The RCMP said the hunter has been co-operative with investigators and “at this time no charges have been laid.”
According to the Alberta government’s 2017 Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations, without a licence, residents may “hunt (but not trap) timber wolf from the opening of any big game season in a particular wildlife-management unit” until May 31, 2018, or until June 15, 2018 in wildlife-management units where black bear seasons are open until June 15. The same rules apply for non-residents but a licence is required.
Anyone with information about what happened is asked to call the Hinton RCMP detachment at 780-865-5544. Tips can also be anonymously submitted by contacting Crime Stoppers, either by phone at 1-800-222-8477 or online.
Entrance, Alta. is located about 300 kilometres west of Edmonton.
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