Visit our Photo Albums!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wild Canid Encounters

Resident fox stopping by for a snack

Maybe it was the full moon that prompted the wolf encounters as folk lore might suggest.

Wolf tracks have been spotted on our dog mushing trails and near the dog yard for weeks. Last week, after feeding and just before dark, I heard an alarm bark coming from the dog yard. Zulu never barks unless it’s something pretty important. The interesting thing was that the rest of the dog yard was silent. I opened the door to my apartment here at the lodge that has a direct view of the dark yard to the east. I glanced over at Zulu and saw him staring and barking in my direction. My eyes quickly scanned the area from Zulu to where I was standing until I saw it. There it was, a wolf standing directly in front of me on the dog sled trail and within approximately fifty feet away. My first thought was that I had a loose dog. Then why wasn’t the dog yard going crazy? Seconds later I realized it was indeed a wolf. It was a smaller one, maybe about 55lbs if compared with one of my smaller female sled dogs. Its nose was to the ground, sniffing the trail. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I cherish every single one of my very few wolf sightings. Wolves like to see all but be unseen so it is rare if one is actually spotted. On the other hand, since dogs and wolves are natural enemies and if it’s between a wolf and my sled dogs, well, the sled dogs win, hands down. Now in protection mode, I yelled loudly as I ran towards the small wolf. It stopped in its tracks and then up the trail it ran, nose still to the ground.

The later drawn conclusion was that having three females in heat as well as having numerous deer hanging out near the dog yard is quite enough to entice these wild canids to encroach upon the dog yard. My hope is that I put enough of a scare into this particular wolf to make him think twice about coming back any time soon.

Interestingly enough, while out on Gunflint Lake with the dog team the very next day, we spotted a small wolf in the distance on the Canadian side of the lake. It seemed to follow the team from afar. I cherished the sight of this wolf on the lake while running my dog team. I stopped the team to watch him and howled a greeting, hoping for a reply but none came as he ran off, the opposite direction of my traveling team.

Around the same time as the wolf sightings, one of the resident foxes decided to come calling as I returned from my evening dog feeding with a bucket still partially filled with meat bait for the dog water. I tossed a piece of meat a couple of feet in front of me. The small red and black fox quickly but cautiously came and snacked on the meat. He stayed long enough for me to go in to get my camera and return and I took pictures of him as he ate only two feet away from me.

The story of the resident pair of foxes goes something like this; they were rescued from the Canadian side of the lake when it was ablaze last summer during the Ham Lake fire. One of the two was injured during the fire and to this day, can not use one of its legs. They seem to be thriving here at the lodge and have become a permanent part of the community.

No comments:

Post a Comment