Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Huge gray wolf snatches dog from yard

Dan Bergan - The Daily Tribune

HIBBING — No one likes to think of himself or his pets as being on the bottom of the food chain. But that possibility became horrible reality Saturday for a rural Hibbing family as their dachshund Buddy was grabbed by a wolf right in front of their eyes and carried off into the woods.

Sandy Harmon was baby-sitting for her sister Colleen McCormack and her husband, David, at 3056 Anderson Road about four miles south of the Wagon Wheel Tavern Saturday morning when she let the two family pet dogs out the front door at about 9:30. As she herself exited the home from another door while carrying a child in her arms, she heard a squeal from the yard and turned to see “the biggest dog I had ever seen” with the 10- pound pet in its mouth.

But the aggressor was no dog, she soon realized. The invader had seized the dachshund by the throat and was headed towards Anderson road but 20 yards away. Huge and gray with a small tinge of black fur, the attacker was obviously the same wolf that had been seen in the area previously.

Sandy put down the child and chased after the wolf, screaming at the animal, with neighboring brother-in-law Kenny Greenwood, alerted by the commotion, also giving chase–all to no avail. Even the pursuit of the wolf by the second family pet, a 50-pound lab mix named Lily Ann, had no effect on the predator. The wolf calmly trotted south down Anderson Road, even stopping four times to drop its prey and reposition its grip on the helpless animal.

Greenwood rushed into his house to grab a rifle, hoping that a shot might scare the wolf into dropping the dog. But by the time he returned, the wolf had loped a quarter mile away and ducked into the woods. An immediate search down the path the wolf had taken and later ATV searches deeper into the woods yielded nothing. No blood, hair, nor carcass.

This wolf simply was “just not afraid,” said Greenwood with a shake of his head. “We’ve lived out here all our lives and have seen brush wolves and an occasional timber wolf,” he reported. “But this wolf came right into our yard in the middle of the day.”

Numbers of neighbors have reported seeing a wolf during the past months, with one reporting that a wolf had “got his cat” just last week and another having lost two calves to the same animal earlier this spring.

A call to the DNR yielded little satisfaction to the family. They were told that there was “nothing the DNR could do” because of the federally protected status of the wolf and that shooting the animal could bring a $10,000 fine.

“Our kids live outside–always have,” noted Sharon Greenwood, who had run to guard the baby left on the ground by her sister as husband, Kenny, and Sandy pursued the wolf. “Now we’re told to keep the animals and pets in the house,” she complained, disappointed by lack of sympathy or even response from the game wardens contacted.

The wolf had free range chickens and plenty of rabbits in the surrounding woods to choose from and instead elected to invade the family front yard, a choice which frightens the close-knit family. Kenny theorizes that the wolf might be a youngster or old male turned out by the pack, a common trait among wolves.

Regardless of motivation or inclination, the wolf still is running loose, and the family hopes that reporting the incident might warn others of its presence and potential danger. Residents along Anderson Road in particular need to be aware of the danger and take precautions with pets and children.

  • Hibbing Daily Tribune
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