This evening, excitement struck. The wolf was back and we were ready with meat treats where we saw him (or her) before. He ate, disappeared, and stopped back for another good encore that included this ID picture of him looking thoughtful.
People are asking how dangerous wolves are. Their danger isn’t zero but it is low enough that the recent killing of a woman in Alaska was the first such tragedy there since 1990.
When I first came to Minnesota, radio tracking at night meant I couldn’t hear other noises and made me wary that a wolf might be coming up behind me. Later, I slept in the woods under the stars and never had a problem other than a snake crawling into my warm sleeping bag with me once, which wasn’t really a problem.
When I hear about the danger from wolves that dare to come around people, I think how often I’ve heard that for black bears. Yet Eagles Nest Community has shown over and over for some 60 years that the opposite is true. No attacks.
Then, some years ago, some people were hand-feeding wolves some 10 miles east of Ely. Photographers were going there. I went there and had memorable adventures, although I never fed one. One time, I went to the spot and there were no wolves. I was taking pictures of shorebirds around a little pond when suddenly there was howling close behind me. The wolf ignored me as I turned and aimed the camera his (or her) way. No other wolves appeared in response to the howls, but it felt good to have the wolf go about its business not thinking I was a bad man to be afraid of.
Another time there I was in my pickup on a two-track road not a hundred feet from the opening where they are usually seen. To my surprise, several wolves came down the road toward my vehicle and split to go around it. As two passed on the driver’s side, I saw them pause to pick raspberries which I didn’t know they ate. Sometimes it is good to be quiet and learn something. They passed on never knowing there was an occupant in the pickup.
A film crew had a similar adventure while filming June some years ago. A pack approached , split to go around June and the two people, and one of the wolves approached June but did nothing and continued on, ignoring the cameraman and soundman.
Wolves have come by several times when I or someone was walking with bears or resting near a bear with nothing happening. However, a mother bear who had her cubs up a white pine at dusk when she was approached by a wolf decided that she would rather not spend the night there. She had the cubs come down and follow her a mile to a different white pine for the night.
I personally do not consider wolves dangerous enough to worry about. I like the look on the face of this wolf tonight.
Thank you for all you do,
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center