MARQUETTE - An Ohio man whose beagles were attacked and killed by wolves earlier this month in Chippewa County said Tuesday he will never return to the Upper Peninsula to train dogs again.
"I won't be back," said Jim McGuire of Amanda, Ohio. "There's no way I could come back and in good conscience turn my dogs loose and have this happen again."
McGuire's pledge ends 20 years of traveling with friends to the beauty of the Hiawatha National Forest to run hunting beagles on snowshoe hares.
On Aug. 7, Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician Tim Maples of the Sault Ste. Marie field office had initial DNR contact with McGuire. The two men spoke on the phone.
"He said that he and his friends were training dogs near Rudyard on Aug. 6 when wolves attacked and killed their nine beagles," Maples said in the report.
The two friends of McGuire were Larry Harrison and Scott Derrick from Charleston, W.Va. Others had also been on the trip to Michigan from out of state, but had already gone home, McGuire said.
In his report, Maples listed nine beagles reported killed including six males and three females. The males ranged in age from 2 to 5 years old. One of the females was 2 years old and the second was 9 months old.
"The dog owner provided pictures of five carcasses," said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason.
On Monday, DNR officials released the photographs and the Maples report to The Mining Journal.
The incident was first publicized after a news release Thursday by state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, who said the reported wolf attack "points to the dire need and urgency for improved management of the wolf population in the Upper Peninsula."
DNR officials said they were continuing to look into the incident after McGuire provided some conflicting details of the story - primarily the number of dogs that were killed.
The photographs showed individual dead beagles, from relatively close range, lying in the grass or other vegetation. At least one of the five dogs in the photos had been torn open extensively.
Maples said the attack was said to have occurred about 11 miles west of Rudyard. DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell in Marquette said a single beagle was killed by a wolf in that same vicinity last year while a hunter was training his dog.
Roell said the presumption could be made the beagle killings from the past two years were likely the work of wolves from the same pack.
A field investigation was conducted on the afternoon of Aug. 7 by Maples and two other DNR employees. They searched the area around a global positioning satellite coordinate provided by McGuire, but they found nothing.
"There had been heavy rainstorms that morning," Maples said in the report.
The day following the search, Maples again spoke with McGuire. According to the report, McGuire stated he and his companions lost contact with their dogs at about 9 a.m. Aug. 6 and believed something had "gone wrong."
"He said they found the first dog carcass about 10 minutes later and about one hour later he saw a wolf about 40 yards from one of the kill sites," Maples said.
McGuire told The Mining Journal the wolf was dark gray and was the only the second wolf McGuire had ever seen. He tried to scare the animal away.
"I just screamed and it took off running," McGuire said. "It was 40 yards from us and 40 yards from one of the kills."
They didn't see any wolves after this point.
"They continued searching until 3 p.m. when they found the last of the nine dog carcasses," Maples said in the report. "He (McGuire) also stated that one of the carcasses they found was completely covered with moss and dirt."
Days later, one of the dogs showed up, alive but malnourished at the animal control office in Sault Ste. Marie.
"The owner was contacted and he replied that he did not want the dog back and this should be given to a good home," said DNR spokeswoman Debbie Munson-Badini in Marquette.
McGuire said Tuesday there were actually 10 dogs in the training session. One of the dogs came back wounded and the animal was taken to a veterinarian for surgery.
"He's home and he's doing fine," McGuire said.
McGuire confirmed that four days after the incident one of the beagles came into a camp and was taken to the animal shelter and was "going to a good home."
McGuire said finding the dead dogs ripped into was horrible.
"This was not a good thing that happened up there," McGuire said.
McGuire said one of his companions had raised one of the beagles from a pup. The young man carried the dead dog a good distance out of the swamp and later took it home to West Virginia to bury it.
Roell said the DNR wildlife division was officially logging the dog killings as a wolf depredation incident.
"The division has evidence consistent with a wolf attack on multiple beagles," Badini said. "The division is unable to confirm the number of dogs involved in the incident, but will continue to evaluate any new information about the situation."
Roell said the number of dogs involved was ultimately not important. Roell said the killings could prompt the DNR to study the area as a place to potentially designate a future wolf hunting zone.
The state will hold its first wolf hunt this fall. A total of 43 wolves may be killed from three U.P. wolf management areas, all located west of Chippewa County.
McGuire said the loss of the dogs was bad enough, but his inability to come back to the region - fearing the same fate for other dogs - forces him to also be "losing the U.P."
This latest excursion was McGuire's second trip to the area this summer. He and eight others had also come to Michigan last October. McGuire said the men had no family or historical ties to the region. They came here several days each year because they had a good time with their dogs and they loved the Hiawatha National Forest.
"It's just a beautiful place," he said.
McGuire said he asked DNR officials where he could run hunting dogs in the U.P. without fears of another wolf attack.
"They said there's no place like that," McGuire said.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.