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Flathead officials continue investigation into reported husky killing

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Officials continue to investigate a woman who allegedly killed a husky dog in the Flathead National Forest under the assumption it was a wolf.

On Monday, a social media post circulated online showing a woman holding a skinned animal that appeared to be a husky dog. The post indicated she believed she had killed a young wolf.

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesman Greg Lemon confirmed Wednesday morning that the woman was licensed to hunt wolves. She held a mountain lion license, sportsman combo with black bear license, an archery license and a wolf license.

Video courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

Lemon said that the agency was investigating “what all happened and transpired” in the incident. Although the agency is not specifically investigating the social media post, but rather how the underlying event occurred, the killing was documented on Facebook and shared extensively early this week.

Last Friday, Flathead County Sheriff's deputies heard from a person who found about a dozen puppies, a mix of huskies and shepherd-mix dogs, loose in the Doris Creek area in the Flathead National Forest near Kalispell. County animal control officers looked into the situation and determined there were more than 19 possible abandoned dogs, according to Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino.

A woman, under the name “Amber Rose” on Facebook, shared the husky kill in a post: “So this morning I set out for a solo predator hunt for a fall black bear however I got the opportunity to take another predator wolf pup 2022 was a great feeling to text my man and say I just smoked a wolf pup.”

A message from the Missoulian to the listed owner of the Facebook account did not get an immediate response and was not seen as of Wednesday afternoon.

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The post, ending with the hashtag #OneLessPredatorMT, included photos of the woman posing with what appeared to be a young domestic dog that had been killed and skinned, splayed out in the bed of a truck.

The post is no longer visible on her profile, but screenshots of the post continue to circulate online.

Killing a game animal without a valid license is “typically” a misdemeanor, Lemon said, although aggravating circumstances in individual cases can affect what charges may be filed.

“It'd be essentially the same as sort of any other game violation,” he said, “harvesting an animal without a license.”

But in this case, because the woman killed a domestic dog and not a game animal, Lemon said, the agency is more interested in how the situation came about, particularly in the context of her wolf license.

“She didn't shoot a wild animal, so that's not really our part of the investigation,” he said. “Our focus has been pretty narrow on this piece of it” — her license.

In a follow-up email, Lemon clarified that if there’s no “actual hunting violation that occurred … then FWP would not be able to cite/warn a hunter. Killing a domestic animal does not fall within the statutory authority of FWP. There certainly could be civil or criminal repercussions of killing a domestic animal while hunting but FWP would not be the agency to bring those.”

Heino said on Monday his office is investigating the case. His office is also investigating why the domestic dogs were left to begin with, and asks anyone with information to email tips@flathead.mt.gov.

As of Wednesday morning, the Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner said the Flathead sheriff is putting the finishing touches on the investigation, and the two offices are communicating about the case. Charges haven’t been filed, and the suspect hasn’t been named.

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