Posts tagged: wolf attacks
PREDATORS — A 16-year-old boy fought off a canine believed to be a wolf during an attack in northern Minnesota Saturday. If confirmed as a wolf, it could be the first reported physical attack by a wolf on a human in the lower 48 states.
Noah Graham of Solway was camping on Lake Winnibigoshish with friends last weekend, and was talking with his girlfriend just before the animal came out of nowhere and chomped the back of his head, according to the Associated Press.
Federal trappers on Monday trapped and killed a wolf they say could be the canine involved in the attack. That wolf had a jaw deformity that could have prompted rare bold behavior around humans, officials said.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say it could be the first documented serious-injury wolf attack on a human in Minnesota.
WILDLIFE — The photos show the wolf that chased the Sandpoint bicyclist in the Yukon last weekend as reported in my outdoors column.
The photos (click “continue reading” below to see them all) were snapped by Pennock, Minn., resident Becky Woltjer, who was in the RV that stopped to rescue William “Mac” Hollan from the wolf that had become obsessed with his bike, nipping and tearing at his rear bike packs even after Hollan dropped the bike and took refuge in the RV.
Alberta resident Melanie Klassen helped chase the wolf away by beaning it in the head with water bottle.
The photos also show Hollan saluting the RVers after the wolf had left and he resumed his Point to Bay bicycle tour from Idaho to Prudhoe Bay with his two cycling companions.
Read on for Woltjer's Facebook account of the incident, and why she felt compelled to give a stranger from Idaho a big hug:
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.
UPDATE, July 14, 10 a.m. — See photos of the wolf attacking the bike and an account from the RVer who helped rescue cyclist Mac Hollan from the wolf's relentless pursuit. Also, I've interviewed one of the motorist heroes who drove the wolf away from Hollan's bike. Read her account of the story in today's Outdoors column. — RL
BICYCLE TOURING — A Sandpoint, Idaho, man and two companions riding bicycles on a 2,750-mile tour to Prudhoe Bay as a fundraiser for a school charity had a tense encounter with a gray wolf last weekend.
Mac Hollan, 35, who will be student teaching at a Sandpoint elementary school this fall, posted this chilling detailed account on his Point to Bay Facebook page on Monday.
Two days ago I was attacked by a wolf while riding down the ALCAN. With all the planning for bears, road safety, and everything else, this scenario was something that none of us had ever considered. But, if you read on you will find out how I found myself alone on my bike being chased down and attacked by a Canadian Gray Wolf.
It was around 2:30, about 60 miles west of Watson Lake on the ALCAN,… I was a bit ahead of the guys when I heard something to my right. Thinking Gabe or Gordo had caught up without me noticing I looked over my shoulder and was shocked at what I saw. The first thought that ran through my head was “that is the biggest damn dog I have ever seen!”. This surreal moment of shock and confusion passed immediately was the “dog” lunged for my right foot and snapped its jaws just missing my pedal.
WOLF!!! At this point I received the biggest jolt of adrenalin I have ever had in my life. Without so much as a thought I shifted my bike to the highest gear possible, started to mash the pedals like never before, and reached for the bear spray in the handlebar bag. I threw off the safety and gave the wolf a quick blast in the face which served to slow him down so that he was now 20 feet behind me but still not stopping. He hung back for maybe 20 seconds and then raced forward and attacked my panniers, in the process ripping my tent bag and spilling my poles onto the highway.
I gave him another shot of pepper spray, which again backed him off to about 20 feet behind. Despite pedaling like I have never pedaled before, the wolf kept pace with me easily. It was at this point that I saw an 18 wheeler round the corner and began to wave, shout, and point to the wolf frantically. As he slowed I began to breathe a sigh of relief, thinking if I could just get off my bike and into the truck fast enough I would be safe. After taking a good look at the scene the driver resumed his speed and drove on.
This same scenario would happen to me 4 separate times, with my desperation growing with each car that passed me by. Every time the wolf would begin to close on me again, I would shoot a quick blast of bear spray behind me to slow him down.
As I came around the corner, to my horror I saw a quick incline, and knew that I would not be able to stay in front of this wolf for much longer. I just kept thinking about all the shows I have seen where wolves simply run their prey until they tire and then finish them. It was a surreal moment to realize that I was that prey, and this hill was that moment. The only plan I could think of was to get off my bike, get behind it, and hope that I had enough bear spray to deter him once and for all when he got close enough.
It was also at this point that I realized I might not be going home, and I began to panic at the thought of how much it was going to hurt. About .2 mile before the hill an RV came around the corner, and I knew this was it. I placed myself squarely in the center of the road and began screaming at the top of my lungs “help me, there's a wolf, please help me” while waving frantically. Seeing the situation the driver quickly passed me and stopped on a dime right in front of my bike. I don't know how I got unclipped or off my bike, but I swear I hurdled the handlebars without missing a beat or letting go of my can of bear spray. When I got to the backdoor of the RV still screaming, the door was locked. In an absolute panic I began to climb in the passenger window, but the driver reached across and threw the door open to let me in. By the time I shut the door the wolf was already on my bike pulling at the shredded remains of my tent bag. I began to shake, and cuss.
More cars began to pull up and honk at the wolf, but he would not leave my bike, as though he thought it was his kill. It took someone finally beaning him in the head with a rock to get him to leave. At this point Gabe and Gordo showed up looking confused and concerned with a set of shattered tent poles in hand. While I know I got the names of the man and woman who saved me, for the life of me I can't remember them now. I do remember the woman giving me a hug that felt like the greatest hug of my life.
Still jacked on adrenalin, all I wanted to do was get out of that place, and get out fast. The folks in the RV were nice enough to watch our backs as we got a ways down the road before leaving, and gave one final wave as they passed by. I gave them a card for the ride and I hope they are reading this so that they know how much I am in their debt and how grateful I am that they stopped to save me. Otherwise I honestly don't think this story would have ended well.
We made it about 10 miles down the road before the full adrenalin rush wore off and then everything seemed to go into slow motion and I just felt dizzy and tired. We pulled over to a roadside creek where I stumbled down to splash water on my face and basically sat in the creek and lost my s%$t. The full implication of what had just happened to me sank in, and I just lost it for a good 15 minutes.
We have spent a lot of time talking about the incident since, and the only conclusion we can come up with is that the wolf was old, sick, or injured, to be chasing something down on the highway. I would not doubt I am the first cyclist ever to have this happen to them on the ALCAN. That being said I have tried not to let this experience change my positive feelings about being out here, but I do look over my shoulder more, and am a bit jumpy.
While other things have happened since the last update, this is all I can really remember. We're in Whitehorse, Yukon now, having pulled off a century before 2:30. We're planning on doing some bike work here and relaxing for the afternoon. That's all for now.
Point to Bay is a charity bicycle tour from Sandpoint, ID to Prudhoe Bay, AK supporting the Sandpoint Backpack Program. The Sandpoint Backpack Program provides students in need with backpacks full of food for the weekend to ensure they return to school on Monday fed and ready to learn. This ride is 100% self-supported, and 100% rider funded, meaning every bit of your donation goes directly to students in need. The 2,750 mile ride begins June 17th, 2013 and will take roughly 6 1/2 weeks to complete. For more information please follow the links to the Point to Bay website. Full bellies, full minds!
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine monitored the entire presentation and comment period of Friday's Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting devoted to Washington's wolf management activities.
I listened to the webcast from Olympia, too, but reading Walgamott's blow-by-blow blog post on the presentations and the 41 three-minute testimonies from the public — plus the resulting website comment string — is more entertaining and requires less caffeine to endure.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — A few callers say they're scratching their heads trying to figure out the point of today's outdoors column regarding wolves.
Here's a hint: Wolves need a lot of fresh meat year round in order to survive.
The Yellowstone model has spawned a myth that elk and moose — the wolf's favorite meal — are overpopulated throughout the West and that wolves will bring the ecosystem into balance.
But in Northeastern Washington, there's no over-population of elk, moose or deer.
Unless wolves are managed, they will continue to multiply and reduce game population to even lower numbers. Then, left to natural processes, the wolf numbers will go bust, but not before they turn to preying on livestock as their last-ditch effort to survive.
Either way, wolf management is the better option if you really care about the future of wolves.
Read a detailed account of Washington wolf management update and resulting public comment during the Oct. 5 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Olympia.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The seven Wedge Pack wolves killed by Washington Fish and Wildlife officers in August and September were healthy, but not necessarily beefy from their diet of livestock.
Read this report by Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott for updates and details on the weights of the carcasses assessed by the WDFW veterinarian.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Former Spokane County Commissioner (and current candiate) John Roskelley of Spokane claims the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was not being genuine with the public in its handling of the summer wolf attacks in northern Stevens County and ultimately the elimination of the Wedge Pack. Here's Roskelley's take, as posted on my Facebook page:
The WDFW rushed this decision to exterminate the Wedge Pack to avoid having to deal with the public or legislators like Sen. Rankin. I stopped at the meeting in Colville Thursday night; the WDFW got their nose bloodied by McIrvin and other Stevens County ranchers; the agency decided on a quick and dirty fix; provided the news media with their excuses for their action; used Conservation Northwest and the Cattlemen's Association as justified supporters; pretended to hunt the wolves by foot; and then proceeded to do what they intended all along - wipe the wolves out quickly via helicopter and sharpshooters before the public woke up and some organization filed an injunction to get it stopped. The WDFW agency people had their mind made up weeks ago, but they knew better than to let the public in on something this controversial before it was a done deal.”
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Some people are cheering and others are mourning Washington's mission involving a helicopter and gunman to kill six wolves this week and eliminate the Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County.
Eliminating a pack is a milestone in Washington wolf recovery and management. But it's a milestone long past in Idaho and Montana.
Government workers and ranchers in Montana have killed at least 74 wolves this year following livestock attacks.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Three wolves from the Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County were killed by a shooter in a helicopter today as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife continued its effort to stop persistent attacks on livestock by eliminating the pack.
Since early July, Wedge Pack wolves are believed to have killed or injured at least 17 cows and calves from the Diamond M Ranch herd ranging on both private and public land between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers southwest of Laurier, Wash.
Department Director Phil Anderson said a WDFW marksman shot the wolves from a helicopter at about 8 a.m. The wolves were shot about seven miles south of the U.S.-Canada border in the same area where two other wolves from the Wedge Pack were killed by aerial gunning yesterday.
Biologists estimate the pack includes 8-11 wolves. Before this week's kills, the state shot a wolf on Aug. 7 when it was still believed the pack could be thinned and dispersed without eliminating the pack.
One wolf, thought to be the pack's alpha male, was trapped and fitted with a GPS collar earlier this summer. WDFW officers have been monitoring that wolf to follow the pack in the rugged, remote forested country.
Anderson said a department wildlife veterinarian would perform necropsies on all five of the wolves killed this week.
For more information on the situation, see the WDFW's Wedge Pack Lethal Removal Actions FAQ
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Pro-wolf groups aren't all standing by as Washington Fish and Wildlife staffers try to eliminate the cattle-preying Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County. Here's a form letter being promoted by the Center for Biological Diversity:
ENDANGERED SPECIES – Shooting from a helicopter, a marksman with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife killed two wolves in Northeast Washington today as part of an effort to eliminate a pack that has repeatedly preyed on livestock in a remote grazing area near the U.S.-Canada border.
The word comes from Bruce Botka, WDFW public affairs director in Olympia.
Teams of marksmen and wildlife biologists returned to an area of northern Stevens County known as the Wedge late last week, but had not killed any wolves after several days of around-the-clock activity.
Beginning Monday, the department called in a helicopter to aid the effort, and an airborne marksman shot the two wolves early this afternoon, about seven miles south of the Canadian border.
WDFW Director Phil Anderson had directed the pack’s removal last week in response to the wolves’ escalating pattern of predation on the livestock herd of the Diamond M Ranch of Stevens County. Since July, the pack of eight or more wolves is believed to have killed or injured at least 17 of the herd’s calves and cows.
The department says the attacks came despite non-lethal efforts to minimize wolf conflict by the rancher and department staff. Some pro-wolf groups say the efforts to prevent the attacks could have been more effective.
Read on for more details from WDFW.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — More information about the decision to kill the entire Wedge Pack of wolves responsible for killing wolves this summer in northern Stevens County is in my news story in today's paper.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department in conjuction with a livestock group and a wildlife conservation group have just issued statement's on the previously reported state decision to eliminate an entire wolf pack that's been attacking cattle in northern Stevens county.
“In response to ongoing attacks on livestock by a wolf pack in Northeast Washington that appears to be preying exclusively on cattle, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced it plans to eliminate the pack and lay a foundation for sustainable, long-term wolf recovery in the region,” according the the WDFW statement just released.
WDFW Director Phil Anderson said the plan has the support of key conservation interests and livestock operators. Two organizations that participated in developing the state’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan – Conservation Northwest and the Washington Cattlemen’s Association – joined the department in issuing a statement explaining their positions.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — One thing's for sure: Beef is not healthy for wolves.
At a public meeting in Colville Thursday night, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced intentions to eliminate the entire Wedge Pack of wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle in northern Stevens County since mid-July.
This is a milestone in the controversial process of wolf recovery, the first time a wolf pack has been targeted in Washington since gray wolves were extirpated from the West with guns, traps and poison in the early 1900s. Eliminating wolf packs focused on livestock already has been employed in Montana and Idaho where the issues arose.
Statements were issued late Friday afternoon by the WDFW along with the state Cattlemen's Association and Conservation Northwest.
Details of the meeting and the agency's plan to kill the wolves are spelled out in this morning's report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
For those watching this issue, the writing was on the wall.
The scenario was pretty well set up, as I illustrated in my Thursday column, when WDFW officials confirmed another wolf attack on Diamond M Ranch cattle on Sunday.
Walgamott also posted a detailed scene-setting report.
The agency posted answers to frequently asked questions on Wednesday night.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — At the request of Stevens County ranchers and commissioners, Washington Department of fish and Wildlife officials will present an update on their efforts to deal with gray wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle since mid-July.
Some of the issues were spelled out in today's Outdoors column.
The cattle belong to the Diamond M Ranch which summers its livestock on a national forest grazing allotment in the “wedge” area near the Canada border between the Columbia and Kettle rivers.
Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, will outline the agency's efforts in a public meeting set for 5 p.m. tonight (Sept. 20) in the Colville County Commissioner's meeting room (old Avista Building) 230 E. Birch Street Colville 99114. See map.
WDFW posted these answers to questions about the Wedge Pack issues on its website Wednesday.
Reading between the lines, Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott says the agency appears to be targeting more than just a few of the Wedge Pack wolves — perhaps the entire pack of 8-11 animals.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department hasn't had much to report regarding its less than fruitful efforts to curb the cattle killing by gray wolves in the Wedge area of northern Stevens County. The toll is about 15 cattle confirmed killed or injured by wolves between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers since mid-July.
But a lot of other people are talking, including the Stevens County Cattlemen's Association.
Several more cattle have been found dead or severly injured since WDFW sent officers into the Wedge area in late August, but the agency has not reported any wolves being killed in the effort.
Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, said this afternoon that the number of officers in the area is being increased after another Diamond M Ranch calf was confirmed killed by wolves in an investigation on Sunday.
Possible reasons for the lack of effective agency response are listed in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
Read on to see a media release from the Cattlemen's association, which is raising concern about the progress of wolf recovery and wolf management.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Wedge Pack's appetite for livestock may spell doom for four or more of the dozen or so wolves roaming between Canada and northern Stevens County.
Two more Diamond M Ranch cattle were confirmed today.
That could bring the number of wolf depredations on the ranch's herd to 12 the cattle between the Columbia and Kettle rivers since mid July.
Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers are in the area trying to trap and collar another wolf in the pack — one is already collared to help them monitor the pack's movements. They're also seeking to kill wolves and disperse the pack.
Department Director Phil Anderson gave an update on the Wedge Pack issue a few hours ago.
Anderson's update is detailed here in a blog post by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Before taking a break for the holiday weekend, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers confirmed that wolves had attacked two more cattle on private land in northern Stevens County, this time on private land.
See details in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
Today Fish and Wildlife officers have resumed their hunt to radio collar another wolf in the pack and kill up to four members of the pack in an attempt to stop the pattern of depredations on Diamond M Ranch cattle in the Wedge area between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers.
See a just-posted update on the situation, again by Walgamott, the wolf man from Northwest Sportsman.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — State officers were unsuccessful this week as they attempted to trap and possibly kill up to four wolves in northern Stevens County — but they found the carcass of a gray wolf that had died of some other means.
The carcass reportedly was decomposed and cause of death could not be determined by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff.
The graphic above shows how far the Wedge Pack has ranged in the six weeks since the alpha male was trapped, radio-collared and released. WDFW officials say the pack's full summer-winter range is likely much greater. They also noted that aerial monitoring coupled with on the ground observation show the collared male can be miles away from other wolves in the pack.
“It's a misconception that a pack always runs together,” said Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager.
Read on in this post for today's late afternoon WDFW update on the effort to deal with Wedge Pack cattle depredations.