From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 16 - July 14, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolf aggression aimed at people

by Cat Urbigkit

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that there have been two accounts of wolves behaving aggressively toward members of the public.

FWS reported that on June 20, a man was camped on private land near New Meadows, Idaho, when he encountered what he suspected to be wolves. The man had reportedly seen two gray and two black adult wolves and a smaller wolf the week before. FWS reported the man said he was cutting some firewood with a chainsaw and his dog was by him when a wolf "appeared out of nowhere and went for his dog." The man "grabbed the dog away and was bitten on the wrist."

The man shot his pistol at the wolf, but reportedly was unsure if he hit it. The man apparently first reported this incident as a dog incident, FWS stated. The man was treated at a hospital for a small puncture wound and scrapes and was released.

A wolf biologist investigated the scene three days later, but didn't see any wolf sign, although the local sheriff said he just had a sighting of four wolves and a smaller wolf in the same area.

"At this point in time, nothing else has turned up and it appears doubtful it could have been wild wolves," FWS reported.

The second incident occurred near Jackson. FWS reported that on July 3, a Jackson man, his girlfriend and their dog walked on the Flat Creek Trail near Jackson and walked into the territory of a wolf den site claimed by the Flat Creek pack, which consists of three adult wolves and six pups.

The healer-mix dog was held tightly by its collar and was unharmed, but the wolves were very aggressive and followed the couple back to their vehicle.

FWS stated that "it was reportedly a frightening experience for the couple, who knew nothing about wild wolf behavior. When wolves attempt to protect their pups, especially if a dog is involved, they bark, howl and run around close-by, but do not bite or attack people. They will kill trespassing dogs that are perceived as a threat to their pups, if given a chance."

FWS continued: "Reportedly, the male wolf was barking, howling, and closely followed the people for nearly a mile ... until he had 'escorted' the people & dog a safe distance from the pups."

FWS Wolf Recovery Coordinator Ed Bangs commented, "Don't we all wish for a dad like that." Bangs added that the man involved in the harrowing encounter contacted the media. "The media story apparently attracted both the 'normal' and polarized extreme camps, the antis [wolves attack people, feds are liars, etc.] and pros [close sites around dens, prohibit dogs while hiking, etc.], responded strongly enough that the reporter is doing another story on the huge emotional response... and so on it goes," Bangs wrote in his weekly report.

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