The Story of Bella, a Husky Almost Killed by a USDA Wildlife Services Snare

Brooks Fahy, of Predator Defense in Eugene, Oregon, has put together an account of Robert Norie, the owner of Bella the husky, and the ordeal they went through after Bella was caught in an unmarked USDA Wildlife Services snare set for wolves in Idaho’s Boise National Forest in August 2010.

Wildlife Services has been implicated in a number of accidents involving non-target animals but this is one of those stories which actually made its way to the public.

As most readers know, USDA Wildlife Services, not to be confused with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, is the livestock industry’s wildlife killing arm of the federal Government. They receive funds from various sources such as counties, states, and the federal government. They are the agency which conducts aerial hunts on coyotes and many other species at the behest of livestock interests. They also conduct operations which kill or scare animals which are deemed a nuisance to city dwellers, agriculture, or airport safety. That being said, they have many critics who would like to see their predator killing days end.

I’ve been contacted recently by someone who is writing a long story about these types of incidents which have occurred at the hands of USDA Wildlife Services over the last several years. We will surely post a link to the story when it comes out this spring.

Predator Defense – Unmarked Snare Almost Kills Beautiful Husky in Boise National Forest.



, ,



  1. Ken Cole Avatar

    I’ve been having difficulty watching the video but, presumably, it might be because it was just posted.

  2. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    The video plays fine. WS needs to go away. The arrogance and lack of accountability is truly stunning. “We really don’t have to tell the public anything” Yep- there’s no blood in those veins.
    Call the district supervisor at 301 734 5943 and tell Alton how much you appeciate the waste of taxpayer dollars- killing family pets, and unintended killing of hundreds of animals like otters, beavers, fox etc.
    I just told him how does it feel to work for an agency even more reviled than the IRS….

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      Sorry- asked instead of told it should be. I think of one of my dogs being caught in a snare and a supervisor telling that line…..That would be a pivotal moment in my life- that next decision. Go for the leghold around the neck…..

  3. jon Avatar

    Thank you for this video Ken. It is hard to watch. I’m sure there are a lot more of these kind of stories to be told, but they just never come to light to the public. I agree with William. Wildlife services needs to go. Their bad outweighs any good that they do.

  4. Jeff Avatar

    This is certainly a federal program I’d like to see axed.

  5. Rancher Bob Avatar
    Rancher Bob

    For all, watch what you ask for. Think about what happens if there is no WS. Who or what would replace them, the Canadian version, or the good old days before WS. Personally I’d love to see private predator control.
    Also Ken leaves out; WS can not kill a wolf without permission from a state biologist giving prior permission for number, when, where. They can not kill wolves just because they can. A wolf biologist must give permission first, that’s how it is in the state of Montana.
    It’s back to work enjoy your day.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      We all know how that system works Rancher Bob. It’s not working like that in Idaho even though you might like to think it does. I’ve come across several documents which show that WS routinely killed wolves without IDFG permission even though they were told not to and even before they were delisted. I can’t imagine how things are going now that wolves have no protection and the political pressure is even higher.

      In Montana the rules were changed so that WS doesn’t even have to ask permission now.

    2. Jerry Black Avatar
      Jerry Black

      Rancher Man….check your facts. WS DOES NOT have to check with MFWP or any of their biostitutes before killing wolves. They only need a complaint from the rancher.

      1. Rancher Bob Avatar
        Rancher Bob

        I almost always refer to Montana and not Idaho, Idaho I leave for you Ken.
        The reason for my statement is because Jerry and others don’t know the facts.
        Current facts are WS has permission to kill wolves found at the sight of a confirmed wolf depredation, the first 24 hours. After that all control action requires further regional wolf biologist permission. If rancher complaints resulted in dead wolves there wouldn’t be any wolves left.
        Next you’ll tell me ranchers have influence over depredation decisions. How many investigations have you been at Jerry? Montana WS agent currently see more wolf depredations in one year than Carter saw on the job.
        Jerry look forward to pointing more of your BS in the future.

        1. Ken Cole Avatar

          Then why is USDA Wildlife Services so averse to documenting these investigations? For years all that Carter has asked for is that USDA Wildlife Services document their investigations with photos and a good narrative of what they find and use a protocol for determining whether wolves actually killed the livestock or not. Yet, routinely USDA Wildlife Services has resisted this and actively tried to keep its agents from doing so.

          In Idaho they recently changed its reporting forms so they just have to check little boxes which has resulted in less accountability and documentation of their investigations.

          1. Rancher Bob Avatar
            Rancher Bob

            All I know is the investigations I have been around photos are first thing to happen and lots of them. Then skinning the carcass, notes of where bites were located bruising and measuring fang spacing. Notes on any other factors that point to what caused death. Two pages of documents later we’re almost done, yes some of it is simple check the box other areas for written comment. So I can’t answer your question because my experience differs from you knowledge.
            I have a book on my table written by the Alberta government that details north America predator attacks on livestock. Different predators have different traits in their kills wolves differ the most. Given enough carcass left wolf kills are easy to identify.
            Have you ever had the pleasure of being at a investigation?

          2. ma'iingan Avatar

            In my state, every suspected depredated carcass is skinned, if there is any question about the cause of death. Evidence of a wolf kill is pretty conclusive when viewed from the inside out.

            I’d invite any of you folks to participate in one of these investigations conducted on a three-day-dead calf in July – and then tell me that it’s a rubber-stamp conclusion.

          3. JB Avatar

            LOL! I was forewarned to take the animal pathology lab in winter. A three-day dead sheep in December still stinks when turned inside-out; but I can’t imagine having to do that task in the summer heat! Uhg.

          4. Ken Cole Avatar

            Can’t be any worse than slinging dead salmon over a weir during August and having to measure and check them for tags. Been there, done that.

  6. Nancy Avatar

    RB – a good read when you get back:

    It is strange and fine–Nature’s lavish generosities to her creatures. At least to all of them except man.

    For those that fly she has provided a home that is nobly spacious–a home which is forty miles deep and envelopes the whole globe, and has not an obstruction in it.

    For those that swim she has provided a more than imperial domain–a domain which is miles deep and covers four-fifths of the globe.

    But as for man, she has cut him off with the mere odds and ends of the creation. She has given him the thin skin, the meager skin which is stretched over the remaining one-fifth–the naked bones stick up through it in most places.

    On the one-half of this domain he can raise snow, ice, sand, rocks, and nothing else. So the valuable part of his inheritance really consists of but a single fifth of the family estate; and out of it he has to grub hard to get enough to keep him alive and provide kings and soldiers and powder to extend the blessings of civilization with.

    Yet, man, in his simplicity and complacency and inability to cipher, thinks Nature regards him as the important member of the family–in fact, her favorite.

    Surely, it must occur to even his dull head, sometimes, that she has a curious way of showing it.


    1. Nancy Avatar

      Should of mentioned… Mark Twain was responsible for the words I posted above.

      Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.
      – Mark Twain’s Notebook

    2. Nancy Avatar

      Wow Jim! Really glad YOUR years of “higher” education are being put to good use and enable you to post two complete sentences.. at a time… in response to my posts 🙂

      Guessing you have a problem with Twain’s thoughts?

      1. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        Jim’s spelling choices are amuzing!!!!!!

        1. Nancy Avatar

          Yes, simply amuzing William 🙂

          Although, some of us here have been guilty at times of hitting that post comment button and then realized “oops” wrong spelling.

          But then again, you only had to read this sentence from Jim:

          “think there is a group of vegan wolves if so I hope they are getting equal protection, represetation and can have civil unions”

          to realize he’s got some major issues going on in his life right now, human…. period.

          Civil unions? Hmmmm.

  7. Mike Avatar

    What a horrific story. This function of the U.S. government needs to be rescinded.

  8. WM Avatar

    Sad story indeed, and particularly disturbing if the WS representative was unaccepting of taking responsibility for almost killing the guy’s dog, no signage necessary, and all that.

    I also have to wonder what the owner is doing letting his dog run down a trail five minutes from where he is camped. That is a distance of about 300 yards, maybe even out of voice range for the dog to return. So, shouldn’t he accept some responsibilty as well? I don’t know, but maybe Bella chases deer, or could get in a tangle with a wolf. I sure as hell wouldn’t give him a gold star as a pet owner, but he does get more than an honorable mention for the orange vest, because this husky just might be mistaken for a wolf by someone.

  9. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I just linked this story to 500 friends on facebook.
    If enough people see what this agency does everyday maybe it can be abolished.

  10. Paul Avatar

    What is most disturbing is the secrecy that this agency operates under. I expect that level of secrecy from the CIA, NSA, etc., but from an arm of the USDA? Something is very wrong here. You should read up about how they kill geese in their mobile gas chambers. Here is another article from the Predator Defense site:

    You have to be one cold and heartless SOB to do this kind of work. It’s time to eliminate this agency and focus on non-lethal methods. There is no reason that us taxpayers should be funding this for wealthy ranchers, or other anti-predator types. They should practice what they preach and get off the government’s teat.

  11. somsai Avatar

    I guess probably it’s not a good thing to let your dog roam at night. I’ve had friends that had huskies and they always seem to take off on a moments notice. Raid hen houses, chase cattle.

    Last year a friend called both the county sheriff and Division of wildlife because a neighbors dog was chasing deer, both times he was advised to shoot the dog. I of course told him to get real, not that I care about some dog but shooting one is a sure way to get the neighbor het up. Ranchers don’t think chasing cows is ok either.

    Too bad about the guys dog.

    Wildlife does do a job that I wouldn’t want to do. When the authorities want to reduce the population of some animal that’s who they call. There is no balance of nature.

  12. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    As vocal as I have been about this very thing, traps are indiscriminate, the dog’s owner is not without fault. If one’s dog is out of sight in wilderness country, most things that can happen to the dog are not good, not to mention what the dog might do to something else.

    I’m not a proponent of leashing a dog in that type of setting, but the dog should be trained not to wander. I’ve shared a tent with both man and beast. When with a dog, the dog has always been in the tent at night.

    1. DT Avatar

      I was wondering if anyone would point out that the man may have been partial responsible.

      Bella is a beautiful dog. 3 legs are better than no Bella, but it never should have happened. Amazing what carelessness and stupidity can do coupled with that superior feeling of being above what is decent simply because you are a government run agency.

      1. DT Avatar

        I also wonder as I get a few posts down this thread, what would have been the reaction if Bella had been attacked and killed by a wolf because she had been running about at night?

        Again, let me state my position. I think this was horrible. I also think if there’s going to be a trap or snare of any kind, some kind of marker is needed, some kind of warning. However, my mind keeps going over all the possibilities.

  13. timz Avatar

    A co-worker had this happen to her dog this weekend, right on a hiking trail. Dog is ok, they were right with it and got it loose quick.

  14. Ken Cole Avatar

    Gotta love the final part of the story:

    “In a final act of irony, Bob was informed by his lawyer that there was a chance that Wildlife Services would file federal charges against him for theft and destruction of government property, meaning the snare he removed from Bella, and for being on a closed public trail which in actuality had no official closure administrated.”

    Was that you Todd Grimm?

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      WS would prefer that we “thank them” for killing our pets and wildlife. What a bunch of ghouls. Some people will do anything to make a paycheck.

  15. Theo Avatar

    The only “services” the deceptively named “Wildlife Services” agency conducts are last rights for tens of thousands of native predators each year. They are not even required to check their traps within any time frame, so many animals they catch die or exposure or starvation. It is a archaic agency that needs to be limited to controlling non-native pests such as starlings,feral dogs, cats, pigs and at that they need to do so in a humane manner. But there’s no macho in that so they would much rather be our killing wolves and coyotes. That we must help pay for their activities via our taxes is insulting.

  16. eloise lanum Avatar
    eloise lanum

    I find it interesting that for all that defended the W.Services, they left out that NONE of the traps or trails were marked to let people KNOW they were there. Do they think the wolves can read? In reality, they don’t care if it’s a dog, wolf or deer. Their motto is the number NOT the species.

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      It’s an animal rights conspiracy I tell you. I knew it!

      1. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        Todd? Todd Grimm? Is that you Todd?

    2. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      Let’s explore this further. Were you the person that called WS? What animal was such an inconvenience to you that you needed the “professionals” at Wildlife Services to set a snare with no markings and no warnings whatsoever?
      You are the first person that I have ever heard (except people that work at WS)that call these people “unsung heroes” You spelled heroes wrong- it’s OK. I understand. Your series of posts are what’s “fishy” there Jim.
      Since WS are too arrogant and full of themselves to ever offer an apology to the hundreds of children that lose their pets to these “professionals” maybe you could Jim on their behalf-What do you say Jim?

  17. Robert Bunch Avatar
    Robert Bunch

    The WS guy may think he doesn’t answer to anyone but if he harms or kills my dog I guarandamntee there will be payback.

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      Note: This comment was deleted by the webmaster.

      William that was a stupid thing to say

      1. Immer Treue Avatar
        Immer Treue


        Passion is one thing, but do you really think before you write? What good does a comment like this make?

        1. Immer Treue Avatar
          Immer Treue


          I’d be pissed if my dog was caught in a snare, and I had taken every precaution to prevent this from happening. This guy did not. His dog was wandering five minutes away from where he was camped. That was irresponsible. Making a veiled threat to a WS employee as you did can be taken a number of ways, and they are not good. Didn’t Rockholm make a statement along these lines last year, and everybody was all over him for doing it. You proved you’re no better than him.

        2. william huard Avatar
          william huard

          Immer Treue-

          I’ve had dogs my whole life. They never leave my sight and they are always on a leash. I never said that the ownwer did not share in the responsibility of his dog being injured. My comment was honest. If someone told me that they didn’t owe me an explanation after killing my dog in a trap he’s going to take one in the jaw to teach him some humility. If you want to compare me with Rockhead that’s fine. I’m already over it.

      2. somsai Avatar

        There’s a young woman sitting in jail this evening for taking those kinds of words one step further by attempting to contract out such an act. Good thing we have an FBI that sometimes arrests eco extremists before they can hurt someone.

        1. william huard Avatar
          william huard

          Eco-extremist? We have this rogue agency, completely unaccountable to the public, killing pets all over the country, and who threaten FED charges against people that have the gaul to try to rescue a pet from a trap or a snare…..I’d say these people need to be cut down to size! Power corrupts, and these people are out of control.
          But that’s a nice try there Somsai. I’m not surprised by your views. I know we wouldn’t agree on the weather.

  18. Robert Avatar

    A sad story, and one that all should work together to avoid repeating. But some things don’t ring true here, or at least make me scratch my head. How did this beautiful dog disappear all night without the owner being aware (was roaming at night a typical behavior)? If Bella was found five minutes down the trail, how come Bella’s barks (assumed, of course) weren’t heard through a quiet night in a quiet forest? And the injuries, particularly the leg injury, seems incongruous with a body snare. Snares are lethal devices to be sure, but it was gripping the body, right? And the leg was severed because…?

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      perhaps with the “play” in the cable, it wrapped around her leg. The tension as it dug into her leg may have actually saved her life.

  19. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    How much are they paying you Jim to shill for them? Or is your brother one of the Goons

  20. Ken Cole Avatar

    Did you actually read the story? He was working as a contractor for the USFS. He didn’t need an overnight permit because he was in the backcountry.

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      With all due respect to Todd “Jimbo” Grimm, if he reads like he spells that could be a problem. Reading is not required when you blow away coyotes, wolves, and other animals from a helicopter

  21. Carter Niemeyer Avatar
    Carter Niemeyer

    While working for the USFWS and the Idaho Dept of Fish and Game over the last dozen years in Idaho, running wolf traps and radio collaring wolves, let me set the record straight for anyone who wants to know about dogs on public lands. Dogs and people are everywhere and few of the dogs are on leashes. More importantly we are not just talking about hikers and tourist types. We are talking cowboys, sheepmen, miners, loggers, woodcutters, ATVers, weekend family campouts and the list is endless. Anyone who thinks shouting out loud or pontificating that dogs should be on a leash on our public lands is being drowned out by the pitter patter of footsteps of people and their dogs. It is a fact of life, a reality and I have dealt with it each and every summer, every day I’m out – warning people about our traps and putting up signs and we still occasionally catch a dog anyway. We are checking our traps once and sometimes twice a day and still run into more people with more dogs in more places than the day before. So simply speaking (like I hear people say all the time) I live with this problem everyday through the work season and I wouldn’t sleep at night if I had neck snares and big bone crushing traps set on public land. People will be people and everyone has a beloved dog and that is the way it is. Every time dogs get caught the trapper and trapping will get another black eye. So if traps and snares need to be set, the trapper needs to be real, real careful, smart and above all communicative with the people around him to work in that environment. You can sneak around but the traps and snares will tell on you. And I have seldom seen any warning signs except our own when I’m out there.

  22. Carter Niemeyer Avatar
    Carter Niemeyer


    Like Ken Coles said, Rob Norie is a contractor with the US Forest Service and has every business being out there and where you came up the insults about his person I don’t know but they are way out of line. Maybe his dog should have been confined but I suspect his work habits are his own decision and that is between him and the Forest Service. I have become acquainted with Rob Norie and he is a nice person that had a very unfortunate accident happen to his dog. Your comments indicate that “you ain’t from these parts”.

  23. Robert Avatar

    I agree with Carter here. Trappers can’t live in the 19th century. They have to understand the dynamics of people, and their dogs, on public land, or face the public-backlash consequences. And for the folks with Wildlife Services, we should expect – and demand – the cutting edge of technique and professionalism.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ken Cole