A Wolf Kill, Right Outside My Door

It feels like wolves are everywhere right now. At the property down in Tomahawk, Wisconsin where I’m working for my assistantship this semester, we’ve been finding fresh tracks and territory-marking urine (although we have yet to get the wolves to answer our howls) And meanwhile in Land O’ Lakes, a wolf killed a deer within sight of my house. That’s how you know you really live in the wilderness. There wasn’t a lot left by the time I got home to see it last weekend, but there are lots of photos on the school blog here. While we were excitedly perusing them I asked the other Tomahawk graduate assistant, “What does it say about us that we’re this fascinated by a gory, disgusting deer carcass?” “That we picked the right career,” she answered. Very true.

Wolves are controversial in Wisconsin. They were completely eliminated from the state by 1960, but recolonized the area on their own in the late 1970s – they weren’t reintroduced by humans the way they were in Yellowstone. Despite the fact that wolves pose almost zero danger to humans (and that in the rare event that wolves kill a domestic animal, the state government reimburses the owner), there are sadly still a lot of Wisconsin residents who hate and fear them. At the movies over the weekend I overheard someone walking out of a showing of The Grey, Liam Neeson’s new action movie about people stranded in Alaska defending themselves from (completely unrealistic) bloodthirsty wolves, say disgustedly “I can’t believe the state thinks those are nice animals.”

Consider me firmly in the wolves-are-awesome camp. As someone who was a little obsessed with wolves as a kid growing up in decidedly wolf-free Ohio (I devoured Julie of the Wolves and all of its sequels), always imagining wolves in pristine far-away wildernesses like Alaska or Yellowstone, it still seems surreal that now I live somewhere with wolves literally outside my door. If I get to hear them howling in the distance at least once while I’m living in Wisconsin, I will be very, very, very happy.

12 thoughts on “A Wolf Kill, Right Outside My Door”

  1. Wicked cool! I agree with you in regards to people having an unrealistic phobia toward wolves. Here in NC the US Forest Service has had very good results in their red wolf program. If you want you can Google it, maybe use the info in some of your research.
    Your lucky to live where you live,

  2. I for one am realy ticked off that wolves have been removed from the federal endangered species list in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota! Now we’re going to have bunch of idiots who believe they have the right, strike that, the duty to wipe the wolves out again.

    I am also ticked off at some of the conservation groups that are happy the wolves are off the endangered list, because those groups hope that now, the money that was being spent on wolves will flow to them.

    Part of the problem in dealing with wolves in a realistic manner is the faslehoods presented by both the pro and anti wolf crowds, the truth, as it often is, is somewhere in the middle.

    I consider myself fortunate, I have seen wild wolves in the Pigeon River Country here in Michigan. Our state DNR denied that they were there for years, but last spring, they trapped a cub, and could hardly deny them any longer.

  3. i am with you Rebecca! I am from Minnesota, the state with the largest population of grey wolves in the lower 48. The MN DNR has sent a bill to the powers that be for a regulated hunt via lottery of 400 wolves this fall since our numbers are so high. 3000 is high? We are all hoping and praying it does not pass.

    Thanks for sharing your blog!

  4. Having lived with wolves in Alaska for years and had them just off the doorstep and around the sled dog kennel I can say that it was a stimulating experience. It sharpens the senses and makes one pay attention. One small note of caution. Last year a teacher in rural Alaska was killed by wolves when out running just outside the village. She wasn’t paying attention. On your road there it doesn’t take a stretch of imagination to see that it is possible to be the prey. Heads up and have fun tracking!

    1. Thank you for the warning. I’m aware of the incident in Alaska, which to the best of my knowledge is the first 100% conclusive case of a person being killed by wolves in North America in history – there has never been an undisputed case in the lower 48 states. I’m at far, far greater risk of being killed by a domestic dog, a lightning strike, etc.

    1. No no, I didn’t mean that at all – sorry if I came across as dismissive. There are a lot of ardent “anti-wolf” people where I live and I guess it’s kind of a knee-jerk response to be frustrated when I feel like someone’s suggesting that wolves are a serious danger to people. I do appreciate your comment, though, and I hope you stop by again sometime!

  5. Thank you. I plan on visiting your blog often. I have been in involved in environmental battles for 5O years including wolf protection. Remember predators do not read statistics and press releases. They adapt to available food supply. That’s what they do. When I lived with the Eskimo Nuanmiut people 40 years ago they told me to never be too sure you are smarter than the wolf.

  6. Yes the wolves have plenty to eat. They will help restore the natural balance if given the chance. How exciting to be that close to the action. I remember it being quite powerful.

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