Wolves have been celebrated, revered and feared for centuries. There’s something magical about them, and I think they know it. That said, for those who experience wolf problems, they lose their luster pretty quick.
Wolves eat meat, and a lot of it. The deer population in the U.P. has been decreasing significantly, and many believe the skyrocketing wolf population has much to do with that. Others say it’s due to tough winters,
I don’t know the scientific data on it. But I do know that a number of years ago I would occasionally cross a wolf track. And now I can’t go into the woods without seeing fresh sign. And it doesn’t take a scientist to determine what kind of fur is in their scat - deer.
In the fall of 2010 reportedly a forester escaped to a tree to stay protected from wolves. That’s the first precarious encounter I’ve heard of in the U.P.
I had some close encounters, but none that seemed too threatening. Once I took a German Exchange student, Alex, on a hiking trip through the woods one day. We were pretty deep in a swamp, and I was looking over the map to plot my course when he came running back toward me. There was a wolf hot behind him. When the wolf saw us both he turned and ran away. I don’t think he was actually hunting Alex. I think more likely he was just hunting, and Alex started to run away from him. He was probably giving chase to determine exactly what he was, and I’m pretty sure would have turned away if there was only one of us there. Nonetheless, Alex was weak in the knees for a couple hours after the experience. But it was a thrill he sure remembered.
One evening I found myself surrounded by a pack of howling wolves. Night was quickly falling, and it was more than a little unsettling as their circle encroached ever tighter. I made my way out of the swamp and into a clear cut where I had parked my car. Now that I felt safe, it was pretty cool to lay on the ground beneath a full moon and blanket of stars listening to a pack of wild wolves in primitive pre-hunt ritual.