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 about the latest attack on Facebook, which prompted the DNR to investigate.
In a statement, DNR Deputy Public Information Officer John Pepin provided more details about the incident, which NTN Trails said occurred near an NTN power line intersection.
Pepin admitted that the wolf-on-hound attack occurred on Tuesday afternoon as a hunter was training his two terriers about 200 yards off the Holyoke Trail.
“The trail is located in a non-residential area and often encounters wildlife,” Pepin said. “Wolves are part of the nature that lives around us.
“The hound is actively hailing a hare, which is likely to attract the wolf.”
Pepin said the dog was bitten on its hind leg but is expected to make a full recovery, noting that it was not taken to the veterinarian for treatment.
“Wolves never act aggressively against hunters,” Pepin said. “This is not a human safety issue, as confirmed by an investigation by one of our DNR wildlife biologists. Rather, it is most likely a wolf-dog territorial conflict.”
Pepin said the wolves exhibited typical wolf behavior, aggressively hunting down prey or canine opponents within their territory. Ice and snow conditions allow wolves to travel easily.
DNR has no other reports of wolves clashing in the region.
“Skiers and hikers who frequent the area are advised to keep their dogs on a leash,” Pepin said. “DNR conservation officers are aware of this situation.”
Pepin said the wolf is part of a known wolf pack in the area that has lived in the area for more than 15 years, from the Forestville area to Anderson Point near the Baraga County line in summer.
After posting on social media, DNR Wildlife staff contacted the hunter, who did not report the incident, Pepin said. He also stressed that it is important to report wolf dog predation incidents to the agency without presuming that predator attacks on animals are wolves or other species without DNR investigations.
To report an incident, please call the DNR Report All Poaching Hotline at 1-800-292-7800, 24/7, 365 days a year, to contact the nearest DNR office.
To report wolf observations to DNR, view a map of Michigan wolf-dog conflicts or learn more about Michigan wolves, visit www.Michigan.gov/Wolves.
“Knowing that NTN takes your safety very seriously, we share information to help you learn more about lead users,” NTN said in a Facebook post. “Please continue to do your part to keep you, your pets and others safe as you rebuild in our wild wonderland.”
The dog’s owner initially posted on Facebook that his dog was “It was taken away by a big male wolf, and it was within my sight,” and notice how “Fearless” Wolf is in this situation.
“As a rabbit hunter, I expected this to happen eventually, but the way and where it happened is shocking,” He said.
NTN Trails said in original comment, along with DNR’s response “Wolves and their management are a contentious topic, but no matter which side of the issue, we need to acknowledge that we share their territory.”
It shows the dog owner running a hunting dog on commercial forest law land, without a leash – which is legal and permitted under state dog and commercial forest codes – adjacent to the Forestville trail, and part of the incident took place on a ski run near a power line intersection.
NTN Trails also urges people to keep their pets on a leash as well as for the safety of other trail users.
Pepin said in an email that wolf-dog conflicts are rare.
“We’ve had less than half a dozen a year for the past few years,” He said. “This is the first wolf-dog conflict in Marquette County since 2012.”
He noted that the incident would be the second wolf-dog conflict in the Upper Peninsula this year. Since 1996, 102 dogs have been killed and 41 injured. Of the wolves killed, 77 percent were bear, rabbit or lynx hunters.
“The sound of the hound is the inducement of the wolf,” He said.
The wolf is a protected wildlife in Michigan and is currently protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, Pepin said. Wolves can only be legally killed in Michigan if they are actively defending human life.