Minnesota & Wisconsin Photography Competition: Featuring Wild Canids

Photography Competition will be open for entree on May 1, 2020. The competition will be accepting photographs of wild canids from Minnesota & Wisconsin “Red & Grey fox, Coyote and Gray wolf.”

Dewey Bunnell, singer, songwriter & guitarist from the folk-rock band “America” has generously donated autographed CDs as prizes for the photography competition this year! Thank you Dewey!

Dewey Bunnell, singer, songwriter & guitarist from the folk-rock band “America” has generously donated autographed CDs as prizes for the photography competition this year.

Competition details are in the works, and will be forthcoming…

Why hold a photography competition featuring wild canids?

Far to often the ecological roles they play are misunderstood. Wild canids have become targets, literally targets for extermination. Every winter states hold fox and coyote competitions awarding prizes for the biggest animal killed using predator callers and high powered rifles. The Minnesota & Wisconsin Photography Competition’s mission is to elevate public opinion by using the medium of photography to showcase wild canids. Thus, drawing attention to their value as a photographer’s subject and to the environment.

Wildlife Photography Contest entrees 2019
Last year Jim Brandenburg donated a print for the 2019 contest winner Chris Rugowski. Photo courtesy of Jim Brandenburg.

Photography Competition will be open for Entree on May 1, 2020. The competition is accepting photographs of wild canids from Minnesota & Wisconsin. Red & Grey fox, Coyote and Gray wolves.

Tracking the Pack: You might never actually see a gray wolf, but the sign they leave behind makes up for it!

Gray wolves are shy and elusive creatures living in Wisconsin’s northern & central forests. Today there are around 978 gray wolves in Wisconsin according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2018-2019 wolf count. I’ve been a part of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) winter wolf tracking program for 20 years now. One thing I’ve learned is that you may never actually catch sight of a gray wolf while conducting a tracking survey, but signs they leave behind will definitely make up for it. The following is one such story of the life of a gray wolf pack I observed while conducting a winter wolf tracking survey in northern Wisconsin.

In 2006 in late January while conducting a winter wolf track survey I ran across sign that indicated the alpha female was in estrus. On a snow covered road I found sign of the alpha pair’s scent marking every 10th of a mile down the road. I observed that whole wolf pack were leaving sign, from subordinate individuals, to the alpha pair. Subordinate individuals leave squat urination signs, and the alpha pair leave raised leg urination. Typically only the alpha male and female make the raised led urination signs. The alpha male also leaves raised leg urination sign along with scat markings indicating this is his territory and he intends to guard it! These markings were made at the edge of their range, and wolves are very territorial at this time of the year.

I continued tracking, observing and documenting all the sign along the snow covered road full of wolf tracks. A mile or so down the road I found the evidence I was hoping to find; a snow covered pine tree sapling with rusty-red colored urine on top of it. The rusty-red colored urine was the tell tale sign that the alpha female was in estrus.

You might never actually see a gray wolf, but the signs they leave behind makes up for it! And this was a winter wolf tracker’s dream come true.

Photograph credit John E Marriott

Wildlife Photography Competition Late Winter 2020

Minnesota & Wisconsin Wildlife Photography Contest will be open for Entree on March 2020. We are looking for photography of carnivores from Minnesota & Wisconsin in full winter coats. Red & Grey fox, Bobcat, Coyote and gray wolves. Prizes…More to come…

Long-standing Wisc Winter Wolf Tracking Program was Developed in the Mid-1990s

The citizen’s volunteer wolf tracking program was developed by Adrian Wydeven, head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wolf Recovery Program, as a way to involve citizens in the monitoring of wolves. Adrian Wydeven is now retired but remains active in the WDNR volunteer wolf tracking program.

I’ve been a volunteer Wisconsin DNR winter wolf tracker since the year 2000. In 2018 I was interviewed by WXPR radio show host Ken Krall about my role as a WDNR volunteer wolf tracker.

Listen to the interview

Citizens Volunteer Wolf Tracking Program

At the time of this interview in 2018 there was an attempt made by a couple Wisconsin state legislators to basically dump any type of management of wolves by the state in an effort to force the federal government to delist Gray wolves. The volunteer citizens wolf tracking program was on the chopping block if the proposed bill passed. Thankfully after public hearings at the state Capital the legislation was scrapped.

Two gray wolves photo credit NPS

Stories of People & Wolves…

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films (WODCW) is working in Yellowstone National Park, Wisconsin, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Germany to bring you stories of the advocates that are working to preserve the legacy of wild Gray wolves.

Click the menus on this website to learn about The Yellowstone Story, The Wisconsin Story and the Italian Story.

About Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films

WODCW is a Film Company producing film projects that inspire change through environmental education and legislation. Gray wolves are recovering on a worldwide landscape, our films, involve a global audience. We connect and engage viewers with filmmakers dedicated to documenting the conscious relationships between advocates and Gray wolves. We view the need for people to meaningfully engage with its wild wolves that are now struggling for survival worldwide. To support this effort, we maintain a network of subject matter experts in film producers, scientists, academics, as well as other advocates who share a common interest to advocate, produce and share educational stories of people and Gray wolves.

The Heart of Wolf Advocacy—A Film Company

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films (WODCW) is a Film Company producing film projects that inspire change through environmental education and legislation. Gray wolves are recovering on a worldwide landscape, our films, involve a global audience. WODCW connects and engages viewers with filmmakers dedicated to documenting the conscious relationships between advocates and Gray wolves. WODCW views the need for people to meaningfully engage with its wild wolves that are now struggling for survival worldwide. To support this effort, WODCW maintains a network of subject matter experts in film producers, scientists, academics, as well as other advocates who share a common interest to advocate, produce and share educational stories of people and Gray wolves.

WODCW is working in Yellowstone National Park, Wisconsin, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Germany to bring you stories of advocates working to preserve the legacy of wild Gray wolves.

Wolves of Douglas County WI Films LLC believes Compassionate Conservation is the future. WODCW believes in Compassionate Conservation developed by Born Free Foundation. First, do no harm as a commitment to prioritising non-invasive approaches in conservation research and practice, and an acknowledgement that invasive interventions may harm individuals, populations, and ecosystems.

Individuals matter in conservation research and practice, not merely as units of species and populations, and should be treated with compassion both in the wild and in captivityValuing all wildlife as worthy of conservation effort, whether native or introduced, whether common or rare, and regardless of perceived usefulness to humans. Peaceful coexistence with wildlife is the ultimate aim guiding compassionate conservation practices.

WODCW does not support any type of trophy hunting to manage wild animals. Wolves of Douglas County WI Films LLC is an independent entity. Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin TM (WODCW) was founded by Rachel Tilseth in 2011 to bring education and awareness for promoting wolf recovery.

WODCW Blog: http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

Instagram: @wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin

Twitter: @WolvesDouglasCo

Website address: www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

Founder: Rachel Tilseth WODCW is copyrighted 2011

Meet the Filmmaker

Rachel Tilseth is a fine artist, educator, environmentalist, wolf advocate and filmmaker. Rachel lives and works in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Rachel earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors.

Rachel has been an environmentalist since high school. Rachel participated in the first Earth Day in 1971. Later, Rachel participated in the protests of sulfate mines that took place in the early 1990s. Rachel worked with activists John Trudell and Walter Bresette, whom she met at the Protect The Earth Pow Wows on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation near Hayward, Wisconsin. Rachel’s first art teaching job was in Kyle, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1992.

In 1991 on a howl survey in the chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Rachel met Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program Head Wolf Biologist, Adrian Wydeven. Seven years later Rachel became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. Rachel officially became a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf/Carnivore Tracker in the year 2000, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves.

In 1999, Rachel put together a story proposal about Adrian Wydeven’s volunteer Winter Wolf Tracking Program, and submitted it to National Geographic Television Channel. Although the proposal wasn’t accepted Rachel received a telephone call from them to explain why. The National Geographic Channel at the time was busy working on starting a global network and all of their resources were tied up in working to get it off the ground. The National Geographic Channel advised Rachel to resubmit the proposal in a year.

Rachel continued working to draw attention to Wisconsin’s Gray wolf and wrote to Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, Africa about the Wolf recovery program. In response Rachel received three handwritten postcards from Dr. Jane Goodall.

In 2011 Great Lakes wolves were delisted. Rachel worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts. Rachel garnered the attention of the press in an effort to bring public awareness to Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, especially the regulations that allowed dogs to be used to track and trail wolves. Rachel made it known that Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves.

Rachel has put together public events. Three film screenings, and one film festival, in order to bring education and awareness about Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, and wildlife issues. In 2011 Rachel started a Facebook Page and named it after the county she tracked wolves in; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin (WODCW). WODCW became known nationally and internationally.

In 2018 Rachel began working on a film series titled Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy. Rachel’s film series tells the stories of advocates/people working to preserve the legacy of wild gray wolves. The first series is about Yellowstone Wolves, “The Yellowstone Story” and Rachel is the Producer and Director. Rachel formed a film company in 2019 Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC.

Gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Photograph credit NPS

Watch Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films’ Trailer

Producer and Director Rachel Tilseth

Producer Maaike Middleton in Yellowstone. Maaike Middleton is a wildlife filmmaker. She was born in The Netherlands and grew up in Montana. She has traveled the globe filming wildlife from pumas in Patagonia, the illusive Amur tiger in the Russian Far East and grizzlies in her backyard. Maaike is passionate about telling stories that can make a difference and address issues that impact us all. When she is not setting camera traps to capture animal behavior she is watching films and helping with the selection process for the Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam. She received her MA from University of London- Royal Holloway BA Montana State University- Bozeman. She has worked on projects for Smithsonian, Nat Geo, Curiosity Stream, BBC Nature, PBS and ARTE.

The film’s fiscal sponsor: FilmNorth’s mission is to empower artists to tell their stories, launch and sustain successful careers, and advance The North as a leader in the national network of independent filmmakers. We achieve our mission by nurturing a vibrant, diverse community of film and media artists; providing education and resources at every stage of their careers; and celebrating their achievements.

Call to Action: Ask the WDNR to limit the hunting of coyotes to a respectable season

Coyotes are hunted year-round in an open hunting season with unlimited daily bag statewide in Wisconsin. The scientific data doesn’t support such a reckless hunt of a wild carnivore.

Unlimited hunts on coyote are reckless conservation policies that must be changed.

Coyotes (Canis latrans)

Coyote photograph credit NPS

Coyotes (Canis latrans) are medium-sized wild canids indigenous to North America. They are seasonally monestrus socially monogamous, and territoria. Once bonded, a coyote pair remains together for an indefinite number of years, sharing responsibility for territory maintenance. Litters averaging 3–7 pups are typically born March thru May in most North American latitudes after a gestation of 60–63 days,and both parents participate in the care and rearing of young
Mature offspring may disperse or remain within their natal territories, assisting in the defense of resources and infant pups, but typically only the dominant male and female breed. Juvenile coyotes around 12 months of age can be reproductively active in their 1st winter, but available evidence suggests that juvenile and yearling females are less fecund than adult females 2 years of age. Older females 10 years of age gradually pass into reproductive senescence, whereas a male coyote was reported to have sired pups when 12 years of age. Older coyotes may continue to maintain territory residency or revert to a transient lifestyle. Source Journal of Mommalogy

The coyote, our unique Song Dog who has existed in North America since the Pleistocene, is the most persecuted native carnivore in North America. The coyote is the flagship species for all misunderstood and exploited carnivores. Poisoned, trapped, aerial gunned and killed for bounties and in contests, an estimated half a million coyotes are slaughtered every year in the U.S. — one per minute. —Project Coyote

Wonton Waste

Photos surfaced of decomposing coyote carcasses located on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands south of the city of Washburn. The USFS and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are the investigating the dumped coyote carcasses.

“Altogether I found more than 60 coyote carcasses at the dump site before I quit counting,” said Paul DeMain, the Hayward resident who took the photos on April 29, 2018, near a popular hiking trail in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. “Killing and dumping wild animals is repugnant to living beings, life, and our coexistence with creation.”

Why doesn’t Killing the whole pack work?

When pack animals such as coyotes, dingoes and wolves are killed, the social structure of their packs breaks down. This causes coyotes to breed to replace their pups. Coyotes protect territories, and breaking up a pack brings in other coyotes. If the coyote pack has established a territory near livestock it makes more sense to leave them intact. Why not implement non lethal controls teaching the established pack to steer clear.

“Coyotes keep rodent and rabbit populations in check. Rodents and lagomorphs (rabbits and hares) are important food items for coyotes, often making up more than half of the dry weight of prey items found in scats (Fedriani et al., 2001; Morey et al., 2007).” —Project Coyote

Coyote photograph credit by John E Marriott

Coyotes are hunted year-round in an open hunting season with unlimited daily bag statewide in Wisconsin. Coyote are considered expendable because they are so adaptable. Coyotes in Wisconsin are considered furbearers that can be hunted with no daily bag limit.

Call to Action

Ask Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to limit the hunting of coyotes to a respectable season and remove the 24 hour-three-hundred-sixty-five-day year round hunt with an unlimited daily bag. Coyotes keep rodents, rabbits and feral cats in check and are essential to our ecosystems. Thus endangered & rare song birds can flourish in coyote habitat.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB or Board) sets policy for the Department of Natural Resources and exercises authority and responsibility in accordance with state laws.

Contact information
If you have Board-related questions or would like to request information, to submit written comments, or to register to speak at a Board meeting or listening session, email or call:
Laurie J. Ross, Board Liaison
Office of the Secretary
Laurie.Ross@wisconsin.gov
608-267-7420
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films will be working to limit coyote hunting to a respectable season. We will be working with other organizations to accomplish these goals. In the meantime please politely email the Natural Resources Board asking for a reasonable/respectful coyote hunting season. Thank you for your help!

I relished being awakened with the sounds of the coyote family outside my house while living on the prairie of South Dakota in the 1990s. I returned home from town one afternoon to find their lifeless bodies nailed to the barn. I was a renter, not the property owner, and asked them why they killed them. Their response was the only good coyote is a dead coyote. I tried to educate them that coyote will not hunt near or around their den site. But it fell on deaf ears because it’s been a culturally ingrained behavior to kill predators, such as coyote, ever since the continent was settled by western civilization. —Rachel Tilseth

“American policymakers have always needed enemies, and with wolves gone, the coyote stepped unsuspectingly into the glare”
― Dan Flores, Coyote America

Gray Wolves and White-tailed Deer are Coexisting Very Well in Wisconsin

“Minnesota has also become the number two all time Boone and Crocket trophy white- tailed deer producing state, followed by Wisconsin. This might suggest that wolves and deer are co-existing very well.”

Wolves and Deer

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimated 1.8 million White-tailed deer statewide. The 2018-2019 midwinter count estimated that there are a minimum of 914-978 Gray wolves in Wisconsin, in 243 packs.

Producing a trophy White-tailed deer

Minnesota has developed one of the largest deer herds in the nation while simultaneously restoring the gray wolf to an estimated 3,000 animals. Minnesota has also become the number two all time Boone and Crocket trophy white-tailed deer producing state, followed by Wisconsin. This might suggest that wolves and deer are co-existing very well.
Wolves may even play a role in helping to increase the health and fitness of the overall deer population by culling the sick, weak, and the old and leaving the healthier animals to reproduce and thrive.
From Wolves and Deer in Wisconsin WDNR website

Wisconsin’s White-tailed doe with fawns photo credit Snapshot Wisconsin

Considering that all the data points to “wolves and deer are coexisting very well” why do we only hear negative news about the gray wolf? Case in point From a staunch anti wolf website. Wisconsin Wolf Facts claims that Gray wolves killed more deer than hunters. The cherry picked data claims wolves are killing more deer than the gun-deer hunters in the 2019 season:

“Gray wolves are now responsible for killing more white-tailed deer in four counties of one Great Lakes state than annual the number of deer killed by gun-hunters, according to data released this week by Wisconsin Wolf Facts.” The group is headed by Lauri Groskopf, a hunter that lost two dogs to wolves while bear hunting a few years back.

Wisconsin Gray wolves photo credit Snapshot Wisconsin

Misleading the public

The following table is being widely distributed to pro wolf hunting groups in the hopes that if gray wolves get delisted this cherry picked data will serve as proof that a wolf hunt is needed.

Table from Wisconsin Wolf Facts shows incomplete data from Wisconsin White -tailed deer hunt 2019

The above table only shows results from gun-harvest summarizes for 2019. This table conveniently scapegoats the gray wolf, proving it’s biased data. In reality when WDNR data of Deer Mortality in Wisconsin’s Northern and Central Forests data has Wisconsin black bear estimated deer kill at 33,000 compared to gray wolves deer kill estimated at 13,000.

Deer Mortality in Wisconsin’s Northern and Central Forests From WDNR 2019

Gray wolves in Wisconsin’s Northern and central forests are helping to keep white-tailed deer healthy by culling the weak, the sick and the old. Gray wolves are providing Wisconsin’s deer hunter with a stronger and healthier White-tailed deer.

Science versus anti wolf bias

A single gray wolf while hunting comes across an abandoned White-tailed deer bed, and gently blows upon it causing all the particles to flow up into the wolf’s olfactory sense. The wolf then can determine if the blood in the tick, that fell off the deer the night before, contains pus in it.

Wisconsin’s Northern and Central Forests data has Wisconsin black bear estimated deer kill at 33,000 compared to gray wolves deer kill estimated at 13,000. Photograph of black bear credit Snapshot Wisconsin

Perhaps White-tailed deer have become wise to deer baiting and may be eating at night while hunters are sleeping. Today’s white-tailed deer hunter sits in a tree stand waiting for an unsuspecting deer to approach and eat the corn or apples used for deer bait.

The baiting of White-tailed deer for hunting is allowed only in areas where there is no CWD present.
Wolves have a sense of smell 100 times greater than humans and they use this keen sense while hunting. Photo credit NPS

In summary

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimated 1.8 million White-tailed deer statewide. The 2018-2019 midwinter count estimated that there are a minimum of 914-978 Gray wolves in Wisconsin, in 243 packs. “Minnesota has also become the number two all time Boone and Crocket trophy white- tailed deer producing state, followed by Wisconsin. This might suggest that wolves and deer are co-existing very well.”

Wolves may even play a role in helping to increase the health and fitness of the overall deer population by culling the sick, weak, and the old and leaving the healthier animals to reproduce and thrive.
From Wolves and Deer in Wisconsin WDNR website

Wildlife Safe Corridors

Saving the lives of humans and wild animals. Imagination in Wisconsin a wildlife corridor across interstate 53 in the north woods. Herds of White-tailed deer cross over the interstate, not only safely, but the corridor allows more movement in and around human settlements. Think of all the money saved by preventing accidents between vehicles and wild animals. Watch the following film.

Sen. Udall and Rep. Beyer Revive Wildlife Corridors Bill to Make Movement Easier and Safer for Wildlife by Lindsey Botts

There are over 4 million miles ofhighways, roads, and other transportation arteries throughout the US and manyof them cut through the heart of vital habitat for endangered and threatenedspecies. While key to our mobility, they are often designed withoutconsideration for wildlife movement.

The impacts of these paved paths can be devastating for wildlife. On a basic level, isolated islands of biodiversity are formed that fragment wildlife populations, divide habitats, and degrade ecosystems. At its extreme, human development cuts off entire migration routes and blocks any chance of adapting to changing ecosystems.

Earlier this month, Sen. Tom Udall(D-N.M.) and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced a bill that would makemovement safer and easier for wildlife. The impetus for the bill was the recentUNreport that found at least 1 million species are in danger ofextinction due to accelerated human activity.

TheWildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019, as it’sknown, would help stem the tide of declining species and habitats by connectingecosystems with over crosses, underpasses, and culverts. They would create asystem of corridors that connect and extend habitats so that animals can move overlarge areas, whether it be for daily foraging, seasonal migration, or finding amate.

“Widespread habitat destruction isleaving scores of animal and plant species both homeless and helpless. We mustact now to conserve wildlife corridors that would save species and mitigateagainst the mass extinction crisis we are rapidly hurtling toward,” said Sen.Udall in a pressrelease. “In New Mexico, our millionsof acres of public lands are home to thousands of iconic species that couldvanish if we fail to take action that enable species to survive.”

There are approximately 1 – 2 millionwildlife vehicle collisions annually. A Federal Highways Administration studyfound road mortality is one of the leading threats to at least 21 endangeredand threaten species. And according to the same study, accidents costAmericans approximately eight billion dollars a year.While the damage is mostly monetary for people, wildlife often end up squishedroadkill.

The idea for a unifying wildlife corridors framework is hardly new. Rep. Beyer sponsor a wildlife corridors bill back in 2016 and, most recently, a similar bill was sponsor by both Sen. Udall and Rep. Beyer in December 2018. Both proposals stalled in the House after being submitted to subcommittees.

Nevertheless, research on places likeBanff National Park have shown that building wildlife corridors can be a powerfultool for protecting biodiversity. Onestudy found that the installation of wildlife crossings alongstretches of the Trans-Canada Highway reduced collisions on average by 80% overa 24-year period.

Such success has spurred some states towarm up to the idea of animal crossings. The Western Governors Association and severalNew England states, along with south eastern Canadian provinces, have already draftedagreements that recognize the importance of increasing wildlife connectivity. Andat least seven states have proposed legislation that would require Fish andWildlife departments to identify, study, or install wildlife corridors. In manyof them, linking habitats would protect some of our most iconic species likebig horn sheep, pronghorn, grizzly bears, wolves, and the Florida panther.

“With roughly one in five animal andplant species in the U.S. at risk of extinction due to habitat loss andfragmentation, one of the simplest yet most effective things we can do is toprovide them ample opportunity to move across lands and waters,” said Rep.Beyer. “The U.N. report on accelerating extinctions makes it clear that thewindow for action to protect the planet’s biodiversity is closing.”

Wildlife corridors are especially usefulfor connecting national parks, which act as refuges, but are being pushed totheir limits as climates change and development erodes what habitat is left. Assuch, the once vast areas degrade, reducing their ability to sustain the myriadof species and plants that depend on them.

In practice, the bill would grant authority to key federal agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, and Transportation to designate wildlife corridors on federal lands. And they would work with state, tribal, and voluntary private stakeholders to identify, build, and manage the corridors on non-federal land. Regional Wildlife Movement Councils will identify and rank non-federal projects and use money from the Wildlife Grant Program to incentivize land owners willing to participate. The goal would be to connect federal and non-federal lands to create an entire system that will traverse the entire country.

Despite the bill’s support amongconservation groups and bipartisan sponsors (one republican, Vern Buchanan(R-FL), cosponsored it), it’s unclear whether it’ll pass the House,let alone a Republican lead Senate. In all likelihood, more momentum is neededacross the aisle before there’s any further movement. Yet the bill’s sponsorsremain resolute.

“The science is clear: human activityis destroying and disrupting the habitats of wildlife around the world. If wedon’t change course, entire ecosystems will be lost and entire species will bewiped out forever. It’s already happening,” said Sen. Wyden (D-OR), a cosponsor,in a statement. “The United States needs to do its part in taking bettercare of our planet and protecting the one million plant and animal species nowfacing extinction before it’s too late.”

People and Wolves: Encounter with three wild Wisconsin gray wolves…

This is Mickey Nelson’s account of her encounter with wild wolves. This is truly a story of coexisting with wolves…

In September of 2012, I was at our cabin in Douglas County Wisconsin. My husband was in the cabin and I decided to go for a walk with our dog, a Giant Schnauzer weighing in at about 100 lbs.

My husband keeps many trails cut on our property and so Max, my dog, and I started hiking through the trails. Max usually never left sight of me nor me of him and if I called him he always returned.

A few minutes went by and I didn’t see him. I called and he didn’t come back. I was close to a road so I walked through the brush and looked up the road. There at the intersection stood Max with three wolves. None of them were growling, no teeth showing, no hair standing up.

A Wisconsin Gray wolf photograph by Snapshot Wisconsin

I called to Max but he didn’t come. They were about 100 feet from me so I started walking toward them with my walking stick, {my weapon of choice} and kept calling Max. I reached them and I just stared at the wolves and grabbed Max by the collar and began backing up with him.

Two of the wolves were on one side of Max and the third was on the other side. As we started backing up, the two turned and went one way and the third turned and went a different way.

I walked back to the cabin as quickly as I could. I told my husband about it and we went out in the truck to track the wolves. There were five sets of tracks.

We have had that pack around for a couple of years and we are able to call them in. If I stand on our deck and howl, and if they are anywhere near, they start howling back and then come in closer, and usually about 30 feet from the cabin.

I am so grateful to have seen these magnificent animals so up close and personal. I talked to Adrien Wydeven head wolf biologist in Wisconsin at the time and he said I was just lucky to have had that experience and yes, their eyes are yellow! ~Mickey Nelson

About Mickey Nelson

I am very involved with everything in nature from, gardening, mushroom hunting, tracking and hiking. My husband and I built a small cabin in northern Wisconsin. We have two children and two grandsons. I also make the BEST fruitcake! ~Mickey Nelson – Wolf Howling Grandma