A training session for hunting dogs near Rudyard, Michigan ended in tragedy when nine beagles were found dead, believed to have been killed by wolves. The dogs belonged to Ohio resident Jim McGuire and his friends, who would take the trip up to the Upper Peninsula’s Hiawatha National Forest whenever they could. According to the Mining Journal, McGuire’s latest visit will also be his last.
“I won’t be back,” he said. “There’s no way I could come back and in good conscience turn my dogs loose and have this happen again.”
Early last month, McGuire and several other hunters visited Hiawatha to train a team of 10 beagles. The mixed-sex group ranged from six months of age to five years old. Although the hunting party had no connection to Hiawatha, they always returned there to run dogs against snowshoe hares. McGuire’s party lost contact with their dogs on the morning of August 6 and what followed was a period of confusion and panic. They soon came upon the first beagle carcass, bearing signs of attack. McGuire and his friends continued searching, eventually recovering the bodies of almost the entire dog team, save one.
It took little guessing to finger the culprit. Only about an hour after finding the first beagle, the hunting party came across a wolf, and it likely was not alone.
“I just screamed and it took off running,” McGuire said. “It was 40 yards from us and 40 yards from one of the kills.”
The hunters took pictures of the dogs and sent them into the local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) office. The incident report was filed by wildlife technician Tim Maples, who told OutdoorHub that the DNR believes the killing was committed by wolves.
“That is [the DNR’s] position at this time, according to the pictures and evidence we saw, we would call it a wolf attack,” Maples said. “Wolves are very territorial animals and anytime they see another canine like a dog, fox, coyote, they will attack. They see it as a threat to their territory.”
The Mining Journal reports that one of the dogs survived the encounter that killed the other nine beagles. It was discovered wounded and then transported to a veterinarian for surgery. The other dogs were either buried in Michigan or taken back to the hunters’ home states to be put to rest. According to McGuire, the trip had a major emotional impact on hunting party. At least one of the older dogs had been raised by one of his friends since it was a puppy.
“This was not a good thing that happened up there,” McGuire said.
Wolf sightings have been common in certain areas of the Upper Peninsula, leading some residents to support management hunts in the area. Wolf hunting licenses will be available for purchase in Michigan on September 28, with a quota of 43 animals across three management units in the Upper Peninsula.
Click here to read about the ongoing debate over wolf hunting in Michigan.
Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service