Wolf-dog incident on local trail reported
MARQUETTE — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Noquemanon Trail Network have clarified a recent incident of a wolf attacking a dog on a local trail.
NTN Trails posted on Facebook information about a recent attack, which prompted a DNR investigation.
John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer, in a statement provided further details on the incident, which NTN Trails said happened near the powerline crossing of the NTN.
Pepin acknowledged that a wolf attack on a hunting dog occurred Tuesday afternoon as a hunter was training his two beagles about 200 yards off the Holyoke Trail.
“The trail is in a non-residential area, where wild animals are often encountered,” Pepin said. “The wolves are part of nature living around us.
“The hunting dogs were actively baying a hare, which likely attracted the wolf.”
The dog was bitten on a hind leg but is expected to make a full recovery, said Pepin, who noted it was not taken to a veterinarian for treatment.
“At no time did the wolf act aggressively toward the hunter,” Pepin said. “This was not a human safety issue, as was confirmed by an investigation conducted by one of our DNR wildlife biologists. Rather, it was likely a wolf-canine territorial conflict.”
The wolf, Pepin said, displayed behavior typical of wolves in active pursuit of prey or a canine rival within its territory. Snow and ice conditions allowed for easy travel by the wolf.
The DNR has had no additional reports of wolf conflicts from that area.
“Skiers and hikers frequenting the area are advised to keep their dogs on leashes,” Pepin said. “DNR conservation officers have been made aware of the situation.”
The wolf is part of a known pack that has been in the area for more than 15 years, ranging from the Forestville area to Anderson’s Corners near the Baraga County line in summer, Pepin said.
DNR Wildlife Division staffers contacted the hunter, who did not report the incident, after posts circulated on social media, Pepin said. He also stressed that attacks on animals by predators should not be presumed to be wolves or other species without investigation by the DNR, and it is important to report wolf-dog depredation incidents to the agency.
To report incidents, contact the nearest DNR office 24/7, 365 days a year at the DNR Report All Poaching hotline 1-800-292-7800.
To report wolf observations to the DNR, view a map of wolf-dog conflicts in Michigan or to learn more about wolves in Michigan, visit www.Michigan.gov/Wolves.
“Know that the NTN takes your safety seriously and we share information that helps make you better-informed trail users,” NTN said in a Facebook post. “Please continue to do your part to make sure you, your pets and others are safe while recreating in our wilderness wonderland.”
The dog’s owner originally posted on Facebook that his dog was “carried away by a large male wolf, right within my sight,” and noted how “unintimidated” the wolf was in the situation.
“As a rabbit hunter, I expected that this would happen eventually, but the way and where it happened was shocking,” he said.
In posting the original comment along with the DNR’s response, NTN Trails said “Wolves and their management are a controversial topic but no matter what side of the issue, we all need to acknowledge that we share their territory.”
It indicated that the dog owner was running a hunting dog, off-leash on Commercial Forest Act land — which was legal and allowed per both state dog and commercial forest regulations — adjacent to the Forestville trails with part of the incident happening on the ski trails near the powerline crossing.
NTN Trails also urged people to leash their pets for their safety as well as the safety of other trail users.
In an email, Pepin said wolf-dog conflicts are rare.
“We have had less than half a dozen each year over the past few years,” he said. “This was the first wolf-dog conflict in Marquette County since 2012.”
The incident, he noted, would be the second wolf-dog conflict in the Upper Peninsula this year. Since 1996, there have been 102 dogs killed and 41 injured. Of those wolves killed, 77% involved hunters after bears, rabbits or bobcats.
“The sound of the hunting dogs is a trigger for wolves,” he said.
Wolves are a protected game species in Michigan, and are currently protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, Pepin said. Wolves can be legally killed in Michigan only in active defense of human life.