WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — “Credit them for having bear spray,” said Nancy Campbell, Environment Yukon spokeswoman in Whitehorse, referring to a Sandpoint bicycle tourist who, while separated from his companions, was chased on the Alaska Highway by a wolf.
As today's Outdoors column points out, short bursts of bear spray bought Mac Hollan time to be rescued by motorists even though the relentless wolf kept coming back to nip and rip his paniers and tent bag as they raced down the highway.
“We tell everyone to have bear spray with them and in a holster ready to use any time they go into the backcountry, which can be a few steps off your back porch in the Yukon,” Campbell said.
Hollan said he and his friends had fully prepared for encounters with bears by having bear-proof food canisters, keeping clean camps and keeping bear spray readily available clipped to their handlebar bags.
“I never dreamed I'd need it for a wolf,” he said.
WOLF OR DOG?
Some readers are pointing out that chasing a bicycle or motorcycle is abnormal behavior for a wolf but normal behavior for a dog, such as a husky or wolf hybrid that may look like a wolf.
Indeed, no one, including a biologist, could verify this was a wolf involved in this incident or the June 8 incident with a motorcyclist in Kootenay National Park (photo above) without getting DNA documentation. That could be done from saliva on the packs, I suppose, but no one is likely to fund that effort.
The lesson, regardless of the animal's species, is that having bear spray readily available is a wise prepareation for muscle-powered travelers.