Thursday, March 12, 2009
I finally got some; photos of the wolf I have been seeing on the dog sledding trail while grooming with the snowmobile! I had seen him before but never this close and for this long. He was suffering from mange. His tail was bare but for a tuft of hair at the tip, however the rest of his coat appeared to be healthy.
In a previous post I mentioned seeing a wolf kill on the trail while out with clients. As I rounded the bend in this same location this morning, with the groomer, I saw remains of the deer and a flash as the wolf tried to run from it and the snowmobile. The snow was deep on the trail from the recent snowfall so he wasn't getting very far very fast. I was within less than 15 feet of him on the snowmobile as he turned back as if to start back at me but in a flash he darted into the woods. I thought my adventure was over......
I continued to groom the trail as the adrenaline in my body lowered. I reflected on the mix of emotions I felt in those few moments during my encounter. I love and respect wolves. They are a natural enemy to dogs. I have scared his kin out of the dog yard so his presence within a couple miles of the dog yard, at that moment, angered me. There has never been a reported incident of a healthy wild wolf attacking a human in the United States. The key word is "healthy". This wolf was not healthy. This thought brought the fear for this wolf to the surface and as his eyes met mine before he darted into the woods, I felt the hair on the back of neck stand up. Once he was out of sight, extreme joy came over me for having seen him, then sadness that he may not live another season due to his condition.
As I was within 100 feet of the main trail after grooming a little used side trail, I saw movement ahead of me. It was him! This curious fella had followed me in the freshly packed trail I had just made for him. That instant I took out my camera, thinking that at any second, I would lose the opportunity as he disappeared into the forest. Instead he stopped and looked at me, then looked back, then sideways, then back at me. He began to head across the trail then he stopped dead center and stared at me again. He began to walk towards me. That was close enough for me so I shouted at him and waved my hands. He slowly continued across the trail. It was then that I put my camera away and quickly drove the snowmobile up to where he had been standing and beyond to continue my trail grooming. I think I was numb at this point and it didn't quite dawn on me that I had just had another encounter with him until I sat down to look at the photos I had taken. Then I revisited those mix of emotions. Overall, having had the interaction with this curious wolf today makes me respect the wild place I call home during the winter months as well as the wild place within myself.