WHY IS VOYAGEUR WOLF PROJECT CAUSING UNNECESSARY FEAR OF A WOLF?
Yesterday the Voyageur Wolf Project posted on Facebook that there's a wolf acting unnaturally just south of Voyageurs National Park and they asked the public to share the photo and story of the this wolf and report any sightings to the Department of Natural Resources.
Why are they doing this when all they received was a report from a few snowmobilers and no one with wolf knowledge or experience has investigated this first? This is the sort of thing that creates irrational fear and could embolden poachers. Not only did they give the location of the wolf, they provide a photo, and use the words cautious and EXTREMELY ABNORMAL. Pretty irresponsible for a wolf biologist to do.
What will the DNR do if they find this wolf?
Why are they calling the behavior EXTREMELY ABNORMAL? Since when is a curious wolf abnormal?
If it's EXTREMELY ABNORMAL behavior that warrants a call to the DNR and warning the public to be cautious and encourage people to reach out to the DNR to report any sightings why isn't that done every time a wolf is encountered.
Why didn't Voyageur's Wolf Project not sound the alarm during this two encounters?
The following link is to a video shared widely of a man encountering a wolf on the side of the road and yet no one sounded the alarm and the man in this video even whistles and shouts at the wolf, plus he gets out of his car and the wolf doesn't leave. Direct Link to Wolf Encounter Video
If the biologists with Voyageur's Wolf Project are worried about wolves being curious about people on snowmobiles they should stop handling those wolf pups. Maybe the constant presence of wolf biologists and volunteers in Voyageurs National Park has made wolves in that area less fearful of humans.
HERE'S A WOLF ENCOUNTER WORTH READING
The following is from Barry Babcock. Barry has lived with wolves for decades in MN Northwoods. He had a very close encounter with a wolf. No warnings needed. The wolf went on its way eventually as the wolf VWP warned about likely did too.
Final thoughts on the Voyageur Wolf Project post about the wolf not fearful of humans.
1. Wolves have behaved that way in the past and no one sounded the alarm. Is it extremely rare? Yes! But it has happened in areas wolves exist and didn't later result in anyone getting attacked by wolves in the area. There was an attack here in MN once by a wolf that wouldn't budge when yelled at. The wolf was first seen during the day at a campsite standing on a picnic table. When people yelled and tried to shoo it away it wouldn't budge but it also didn't look well. That wolf would later bite a camper and a necropsy showed it was starving to death. It only has fish scales and bones in its stomach, it was emaciated, and it had a deformed jaw. That's a totally different situation then the one VWP is talking about.
2. Some might think the VWP post is warranted considering a wolf not running away from a loud snowmobile is very strange, but remember back in 2015 when the wolf chased the snowmobile in Voyageur National Park there was no outcry, no warnings, and the DNR didn't rush out to find it. Wolf biologist Dr. David Mech also downplayed the situation and said it was probably a young inexperienced wolf and it may have seen the snowmobile as prey because it was speeding away like prey does.
Now ask yourself, what's more intimidating, a wolf that stares at you as you ride by on your snowmobile or a wolf that chases you? We all know the answer and yet no one was concerned about the wolf that took chase.
3. The area this wolf was seen isn't a large tourist area, it's not Yellowstone or Gooseberry Falls, so it's a bit surprising that the VWP would encourage people to share their post in hopes of getting the message out. Also telling people not to approach the wolf is odd considering all of us have been raised to believe wolves are dangerous, the only people that wouldn't be afraid of a wolf is someone who has educated themselves on wolf behavior and they would know better not to approach a wolf anyway. The surrounding area does have a lot of wolf haters and now VWP basically gave the license to kill without consequences. There's a wolf out there acting strangely and they give the location it was spotted. How hard will it be now for someone to go out and shoot the wolf and just say it tried to attack them even if it didn't?
4. Why the all caps wording? It incites irrational fear in people that know little about wolves other than the myths they've been told. To write WARNING, EXTREMELY UNUSUAL...and then not follow that up with all the steps that should have been given on what to do if people encounter that wolf or any wolves seems very irresponsible. WVP could have easily just posted "There's a wolf in the area that is behaving more friendly than we usually see wolves behaving so if you see it, here are the precautions you can take - and then list the precautions. In fact, VWP didn't give steps people could take if they encountered that wolf or any wolf, instead they encouraged people to report it to the DNR. Why? If the wolf is that concerning then the DNR should be heading to the park now to deal with it and they should be the ones warning the public, not VWP.
5. Why has no one considered that the constant presence of the wolf researchers in the park may be contributing to wolves being wary of humans? The biologists are going into wolf dens to remove wolf pups, they are spending time examine wolf pups, they tranquilize and examine adult wolves, etc... Why is no one talking about that and how it effects such an intelligent species as the wolf?
6. The main reason the park and surrounding area even gets visitors during the winter is cross country skiing and snowmobiling. Maybe the wolf is just use to seeing people on snowmobiles. Dr. Mech claimed they could possibly mistake a snowmobile (not the person) for prey if they are young and inexperienced so maybe the wolf was there to inspect what he/she was seeing.
Lots of questions and concerns about this but as usual we'll get no answers.