A report of a dog and two pups slain by wolves west of Missoula is being taken seriously by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

The attack took place in the Josephine Creek area of the Nine Mile drainage not far from Missoula. The dogs were in the process of tracking a mountain lion and were found slain after signalling their hounds-men that they had treed a mountain lion.

Some have speculated from the photographs that the dogs do not appear to show the signs of a wolf kill. "Typically what happens in an attack of wolves on dogs is it's kind of a two step encounter and in this case this is what the photos reflects," explains Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Public Information Officer Vivica Crowser. "Dogs are killed and oftentimes the wolves will come back in and cause more damage to the animals they killed at that point, but I think at that point in this case, that when the houndsmen responded to their dogs they scared the wolves out of the site."

Crowser says that the dogs of lion hunters are at a greater risk of wolf attack because they travel so far away from their owners. Because of this, Crowser says lion hunters are advised to look out for wolf sign in the area they are hunting. However, in this case, those precautions were taken and the houndsmen had not seen any sign of wolves until their dogs were taken.

Crowser says that FWP will likely not perform an autopsy on the bodies.

When wolves are around, dogs are at high risk of attack whether they are hunting mountain lions or not because their barking is an attractant to predators. Crowser advises those headed out into the woods and wilderness areas with their pets to try to keep them close to prevent an attack.

Interview with Vivica Crowser: