Idaho’s Mystery Calf Killer

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 30th, 2009

When an Ashton, Idaho, rancher reported three of his calves were killed, possibly by a wolf, the Idaho Fish and Game Department and federal Wildlife Services personnel quickly responded and investigated, reports investigative journalist Joyce Edlefsen.

The results: Some type of large canid (member of the dog family) killed the three calves south of Ashton Friday night, April 23, 2009, according to a Fish and Game news release. But officials aren’t ready to pin these killings on a wolf.

After being contacted by the livestock owner to investigate the incident, a Fish and Game officer contacted Wildlife Services.

An investigation of the scene confirmed that a single track of a lone large dog-like animal belonged to the animal responsible for killing the calves.

A live trap was baited and set at the site Saturday night, April 25.

A wolf seemed to be the chief suspect, but a large gray malamute dog was captured in the trap Saturday night. The trap was baited again and set, but no other animals were caught in the trap the following two nights.

While it cannot be confirmed that the dog killed these calves, a neighbor reported that he had shot at the same gray malamute that had been chasing his livestock earlier on the same night that the three calves were killed, the Fish and Game says.

“I think it is important for everyone to realize that anytime an incident occurs that could be related to wolves that it will be investigated thoroughly,” Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Steve Schmidt says.

While wolves are known to prey on livestock, statistics indicate that the numbers of livestock killed by domestic dogs allowed to run loose totals several hundred in Idaho each year.

Wolves have been blamed on at least three attacks on dogs and for harassing a herd of horses in the Ashton area in the past two years.

Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries says the trapped malamute was taken to the St. Anthony dog pound and kept until the owner was located. The dog was released to the owner.

As per state code, the owner was served a letter indicating his dog was found running at large. The letter informs the owner of the state code and warns him if the dog is found running at large again, the owner will get a ticket.

Humphries says there is no way of proving the dog was to blame for the death of the calves, or that some other animal is to blame.

But he did say his office has had several complaints this spring of dogs running at large and has served several letters similar to the one served in this most recent case.

The complaints have come from all over the county, from Egin to Chester to Ashton, Humphries says.

While this case presents the most serious accusation against a dog running at loose, loose dogs also have been accused of chasing mares to the point of causing them to abort colts, the sheriff says.

He’s discovered many people are unaware of the state law against allowing dogs to run loose.

As far as wolves go, the Fish and Game encourages people to report possible wolf sightings and to find out more about wolves.

Thank you.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

8 Responses to “Idaho’s Mystery Calf Killer”

  1. maeko responds:

    Dogs play with their food. Wolves eat it.

  2. gkingdano responds:

    OMG!! The same crypid livestock killer is in my neighborhood too. I have seen it. It brutally killed several chickens over several months. It ALSO killed many of the outside cats in the area. Here in the East Texas pineywoods (known Bigfoot Area) there may be a BREEDING population of these rarely seen and known killers. Please seen $$$ to stop these KILLERS and to take DNA samples so we can be positive of the feral dog (I mean Crypid Livestock Killer) ID.

  3. odingirl responds:

    I live in Idaho, and unfortunately I can confirm that the majority of the boneheads living here let their dogs run loose to do whatever they’d like. These are the same people who will swear up and down that their little darling would never hurt a fly. I’d love to say that these people are living mostly in rural or backcountry areas, but alas, we have plenty of people with this same hillbilly mentality living in the largest cities in the state.

    Having spent 7 years of my childhood in a rural area, I can also confirm that packs of these ‘little darlings’ would quickly get together and chase (and attempt to kill) cattle, horses and deer. They’re doing what comes naturally….and what the ignorance of their owners allows.

  4. Redrose999 responds:

    We have a huge population of feral dogs here in Upstate New York, is it possible, they have a similar problem in Idaho? It’s not really a far stretch. Dogs that are abandoned become hunters and often band together and can be very dangerous, especially to other pets and livestock.

  5. kittenz responds:

    Given that they caught a Mal at the scene, and that no further attacks have occurred since, I’d say that Mal was the culprit.

    Left to their own devices, Malamutes are inveterate hunters, and a Mal could easily take down a calf. If wolves killed a calf there would not be much left of it when finished eating. Ditto with a truly feral pack of dogs.

    It’s pet dogs running loose that cause the most damage to livestock.

  6. helgarde responds:

    As someone who has had several Siberian Huskies and a Malamute over the years, I can tell you that these northern breed dogs have the same hunting/chase instinct and pack instincts of wolves. Their behavior is very close to a wolf, and they are extremely hardy, strong dogs–especially the larger, heavier-bodied Malamutes. They can easily take down a calf, and if allowed to run free or become feral, these dogs can be dangerous to livestock.

    They won’t hurt people, but other animals–cats, calves, sheep, goats, chickens and other dogs–these can be harassed, injured or killed by single dogs, or worse, packs of them.

    These dogs require a special sort of person to keep them, someone who is comfortable being a pack leader, who can get inside their dogs’ heads and really work with their natural instincts and mold them to the requirements of modern civilization.

    I loved my dogs, very much, and they were very fun and extremely loving, but one of them could never be left near cats, and all of them were hell on wildlife. Possums, rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels and raccoons fell to them regularly, and I swear that I once watched one of my husky girls nearly run down a frickin deer! And she was a big enough dog that if she had gotten more of a drop on the deer, she would have taken it down–she was insanely strong.

    So, yeah, I would look for a northern breed dog before I would a wolf in cases like this. They have no fear to go near the habitations of man and they love to chase livestock, and sometimes kill it. And they, unlike wolves, do not always eat their prey.

  7. sschaper responds:

    I think that the Brits have always had this right, and non-urban Americans: It is cruel to keep a dog penned up or indoors. But if they turn sheep (or other livestock) killer, then you have to put them down. Different breeds of dogs do have different instincts, we always had Scots collies, who would try to herd the horses and play with baby rabbits, and befriend all the barn cats. Apparently, Malamutes are different, just as Labs are different, and so on.

  8. kittenz responds:

    I have an amusing anecdote about Malamutes.

    One of my clients had a Malamute that they had acquired as a small puppy. She was a wonderful dog in many ways. She loved people (as almost all Malamutes do), but she also loved cats, and they even had pet rabbits that she would try to mother. She also got along very well with other dogs. She was so laid-back and placid, and she never left their large yard. But she developed Cushing’s Disease and diabetes and after a long illness she died at age 14.

    The family had loved her so much. They wanted another dog just like her. I had told them, many times over the years, that “Rosie” (not using real names) was not a typical Malamute. Mals are high-energy dogs. They love people and will bowl a person over in friendly greeting but they are almost never aggressive with people. But they are usually very dog-aggressive, at least toward dogs of the same sex, and they are very predatory with almost everything else! Small furry animals such as cats are almost irrisistable to them and they usually are not good unsupervised around other animals.

    But the family had their hearts set on a dog “just like Rosie”. They found a Malamute breeder who was highly recommended and who guaranteed her dogs. They picked out a cute little wolf-sable fuzzball that was the same color as “Rosie”, and named her “Hannah”. They settled back to raise “Hannah” to be just like “Rosie”.

    But “Hannah” was a typical Mal. She was Malamute through and through. She loved people. All people. But as soon as her fuzzy little legs would take her, she began leaving the yard and chasing whatever moved. As soon as they let her outside she would go fight the neighbors’ old spayed female Lab. They got her spayed. She still fought the Lab, just for the fun of fighting it seems; there wasn’t any real malice in it. She began dragging home furry little dead creatures. Chipmunks. Groundhogs. Cats. More cats. A skunk. The family had underground fencing installed and put a shock collar on her to teach her to stay on their grounds (after all, that had worked for their neighbors’ German Shepherds). “Hannah” went over the line, got shocked, yipped, and went on her merry way. She would jump through, yip, come back with something dead in her mouth, and yip again as she came back to her yard. Over and over again.

    The family asked me,as I was shaving “Hannah’s” leg to treat a bite from a rattlesnake (which she killed), “What is wrong with our dog? She doesn’t act a thing like a Malamute. ‘Rosie’ never did these things”. But as I explained to them, “Hannah” was indeed acting like a typical Malamute. They ended up fencing their family estate. She only dug out a few times 🙂 .

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Malamutes! I’ve had several over the years. But part of loving a breed is knowing the breed. I took a beautiful Mal as a rescue one time, intending to keep him just long enough to find him another home because the client was moving and couldn’t take him. He was the friendliest dog in the world. He killed four of my cats in the four days I had him, “snap snap the cat is gone”, wagging his tail the whole time. I gave him to a farmer who had large acreage where he could run. As soon as he let him out of his truck, Hank killed four ducks and a cat. All the time wagging his tail saying “Wow! Look what a good boy I am”.

    Mals are just that way. Not vicious, just predatory. (The farmer liked Hank so much that he kept him. But he kept him at his other farm, where he runs beef cattle and has no small livestock).

    I hope that they settle this incident without killing the dog. It was just being true to its nature. Its owner should pay damages and maybe a fine for allowing the dog to run loose and harass livestock. And if the owner isn’t willing to care for the dog and keep it confined to their own property, they should let a Malamute rescue group help them find it a home suitable for a Mal.

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