Update: Idaho camper shoots family dog, mistaking it for wolf

Dog’s owner is worried what happened to him might start happening to others
Dog’s owner is worried what happened to him might start happening to others
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 3:25 PM MDT
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HAILEY, IDAHO (KMVT) Three gunshots. That was what Robert Kolb and his 16-year-old daughter were awakened to in the early morning hours on Saturday, June 12 while they were on a backpacking trip at North Fork Lake in Custer County. Their six-year-old, 104 pounds, Alaskan Malamute named Suki had wandered over to a nearby campsite and was mistaken for a wolf. Kolb said the dog wasn’t on a leash because they didn’t realize the other campsite was so close to theirs.

“I saw my dog and I was absolutely saddened, as well as enraged,” said Kolb. “But the person that shot her was just like, ‘We are going to help you get out of here. I can’t believe I did it. We are going to take care of this.”

He said the first shot was a warning, but the second shot went between her eye and ear and then exited out the back of her neck. The third bullet clipped her lower ear. The dog was immediately rushed to St. Francis Pet Clinic in Ketchum.

“She is going to make it. It didn’t require surgery. The bullet went straight through her, and the bullet clipped her neckbone so there is a cracked neckbone,” said Kolb. “She is on super bed rest right now, and she is pretty drugged up.”

He said the shooter might have seen his dog’s tags if he had waited for one more second because the tags hang below the hair. However, Kolb indicated the person who shot his dog has shown incredible remorse.

“He (shooter) spoke about how he and his buddies talked around the campfire and said, ‘We are never bringing a gun if there are four of us. We are never bringing a gun if there are two of us’,” said Kolb. “They talked it out, and I think maybe we changed their lives by this mistake.”

Kolb said the area where they were camping is not known as a hunting area due to its landscape. However, he is concerned that recent changes in wolf laws that go into effect starting July 1st might lead to more instances like his. Hunters and private contractors will be allowed to trap wolves on private land year-round. There is also no limit on the number of wolf tags being issued.

“I am not going to take my dog in the woods anymore after July when they are allowing hunters to kills wolves. I am going to keep my dog at home,” Kolb said.

Logan Miller, of the Wood River Wolf Project which has been around 14 years and looks to create co-existence between wolves and livestock in the valley, said he thinks everyone is pretty concerned about this.

“Hunters can put traps pretty close to trails and dogs are not always on leashes,” said Miller.

“I believe it was last year [Sen.] Michelle Stennett got her dog stuck in a wolf trap, and I think that is an issue in our community,” said Miller. “We are concerned about it, and I am concerned about it personally just hiking in the woods.”

He also said it is probably wise for campers and backpackers to keep their dogs on leashes and have markings on them.

“Something like a reflective vest or a reflective collar. Something that makes it obvious that this is not a wolf,” Miller said.

Kolb said it “scares” him that the wolf trapping season is year-round. He also doesn’t think killing wolves is the answer.

“We can pay the farmers for the few livestock that are missing. My understanding is there is very few livestock that is missing,” said Kolb. “Why isn’t it (season) just open for a month, so we can be out there in the woods and not worry about hunters shooting out dogs.”


BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A family has said their pet dog is recovering after she was shot twice last weekend by a camper in Idaho who mistook her for a wolf. The pet is actually an Alaskan malamute.

The Idaho Statesman reported that Rob Kolb and his daughter started their backpacking trip on Friday in central Idaho with their dog named Suki. The next morning, they woke up to multiple gunshots. Suki was shot on the left side of her head.

The man who shot Suki said he thought she was a wolf before he noticed she had a collar on. The man then paid for her vet bills.

The Kolbs are now urging people to brush up on their wildlife identification skills.

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved.