Friday, April 10, 2009
Timber wolves kill whitetail deer
My dog, Sam, and I recently found where timber wolves killed two more whitetail deer behind our house. This brings to three the number of deer killed by wolves that we've found on our property in Nolalu.
It sounds like a lot but it's probably no more than normal. The deer come to our property as the winter progresses each year. We have a lot of mature conifer trees that prevent much of the snow from reaching the ground. The deer come to the area to get out of the deep snow and also to eat tree lichens such as several species known collectively as Old Man's Beard.
Wolves show up each year in February and March and start picking off the deer.
Wolves have been known to kill dogs here and for that reason I always keep a watchful eye on Sam once I know the wolves are around.
I've learned, however, that most wolves don't go after dogs. About once every 10 years, it seems to me, there will be a pair of wolves -- a male and a female -- that go on a dog-killing spree. Eventually they get shot and then there's no more problem with wolves killing dogs for a long time even though there are always a lot of wolves in the area.
About 20 years ago our neighbor's dog was killed by wolves and the Thomsons warned me that our dog, Lady, might be next. The very next night I was wakened by Lady barking outside from her house. In about 10 minutes a large wolf came out of the bush and headed right for her where she was tied on a line. When it was about 20 feet from her I stepped outside and the wolf took off. I let a load of buckshot fly in its direction. Never hit the wolf but I got my point across that this wasn't a good place for a wolf to get another dog. The instant after I shot a second wolf howled from the bush.
They never came back to our house but the dog-killing in the village continued for a couple of weeks until finally someone shot both wolves as they came up to a deck to get a small dog tied there, right in the middle of the day.
I heard from trappers in the area this year that most of the wolves this winter are suffering from mange. In the past they have been known to get inside barns at night to keep warm when they had the mange and lost their fur. I knew of one case where the horses caught mange from the wolves.
Even though wolves are a potential threat to Sam, I try not to tar them with the same brush as the dog-killers. Sam has grown up with wolves all around him and he's good at staying close to the house when they are around.
The wolves just go about their business of thinning down the deer herd and so my policy is to let them do their thing.
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