Sunday, January 19, 2014

Are wolves dangerous to people?

In my opinion, absolutely not, at least not in North America.
Here in Northwestern Ontario there are an abundance of timber wolves and the chances of wolf-people encounters are excellent. Despite that, I've only ever heard of a single wolf attack case.

What would happen if a person was walking on the trail shown in the photo of the last blog entry and met this pack of wolves? First of all, it is almost an impossibility that occasion would arise. The wolves would sense you from hundreds of yards away and would be GONE! They want nothing to do with humans, especially ones that show up by surprise. It can be different when the wolves become habituated to you such as when loggers operate machines every day in wolves' territory. In these cases the wolves can pay little attention to you, just as long as you are doing your normal thing and especially if you stay aboard your skidder or other machine.
Farmers everywhere see the same thing with deer -- you can drive to within a few yards of a bedded down deer but stop your tractor or get off and they take flight.
In my lifetime I have never personally known anybody who was attacked by a wolf or even remotely threatened by one. I know of no bush-wise person who has any personal safety concerns about wolves whatsoever.
Since I posted a couple of historic Bow Narrows Camp blogs a few entries ago, I'll pass on this story about my mom and dad's wolf encounter at camp. This took place in the early 1960s when they had flown into camp by ski plane one May.
My mom awoke to the sound of wolves howling close by. She looked out the window and there was a big wolf right outside.
She shook my dad awake. "Don! Don! There are wolves here in the yard!"
My dad was extremely slow to wake up in those days. You had to shake him repeatedly and even when he did get up, he wasn't totally "with it."
Dad stumbled into the kitchen and fumbled around the stove for the coffee pot which still had some left from the previous day. He poured himself a cup and after downing the stone-cold liquid, decided he needed to go to the outhouse which he proceeded to do.
On leaving the privvy it dawned on him for the first time that there were wolves howling and they were really close. Then he saw one just a dozen yards away. It just stood still looking at him for a bit and then turned and headed toward the lake.
"Wait a minute!" he thought. "What wolf just stands still looking at you?"
As the creature walked away, Dad gave a whistle. The wolf turned and looked at him and wagged its tail.
"That's not a wolf; it's a dog!" he said to himself.
The dog turned again and this time got in the lake and started swimming across the narrows. Sure enough, right on the bank on the other side was an actual pack of wolves and it was them that had been doing the howling. They wanted their buddy to come back. Wolves aren't fond of swimming.
Dad reasoned the dog had been a sled dog that got left behind somewhere and just took up with the wolf pack.
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Anonymous said...

Dan, have any good stories of people getting lost or having mechanical issues, thus having to spend the night on the water? Enjoy your blogs, Tom Schottgen

Dan Baughman said...

You know, I can't think of anyone who has been stuck overnight since Brenda and I have been back in the camp business (1992). Knock on wood!
Certainly there have been mechanical problems. There are a couple every year. The people just get a tow from another boat or paddle towards camp until they can flag down a boat. I try to make all the boats are back to camp before I go to bed. I especially keep an eye on cabins that only have one boat. But your suggestion reminds me to do a blog on what to do if you have problems.