By Steve Smith
We grew up hearing about the Big Bad Wolf – Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Pigs, that stuff. Wolves were bad news. And a lot of that has stuck with us.
Now the conventional wisdom has it that wolves are just fine, no problem, nothing to see here, move along, move along.... But their re-introduction into the Great Lakes states as well as their highly successful propagation has put them in close contact with humans, our farm animals, and our dogs, in a way that is unprecedented in North America's history. It is probably true that there's never been an unprovoked attack by a wolf on a human in North America. But then, never have so many wolves lived in such close proximity to so many humans, and it makes me wonder why the Europeans years ago said, "Enough!" and did their level best to exterminate them.
There's currently a back-and-forth between those who want wolves in this part of the world to remain listed on the Endangered Species list and those who want them off so their numbers can be scientifically controlled. There's no doubt that livestock takes it on the chin in areas with high wolf populations... but so do dogs.
That's where we come in. The upper Great Lakes are a magnet for grouse and woodcock hunters, and every year we hear stories of hunting dogs picked off and killed by wolves. But it's not just wolves – coyotes will do the same thing, and their numbers are increasing across the entire country; they even regularly wander into residential areas and pick off an unguarded pet.
What can you do? If you plan to hunt this area, run your dog with a beeper collar sent on "run" mode, so it's beeping at regular intervals, not just when the dog’s on point. Before you get out to hunt, check the forest trails for wolf tracks – you'll know them if you see them, trust me. They use these trails to traverse their home range. And check the laws in each state to see what you can and cannot do to protect your dog; the rules vary.
I don't mean to frighten you or keep you away from this great part of the world, rich in both game and public lands to hunt. But it doesn't hurt to be cautious.
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