Friday, June 22, 2007

Woman and dog have run-in with wolves

Incident highlights peril dogs face in wolf country


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

Burley resident Brenda McGill had a hair-raising experience while walking outdoors near her and her husband's remote Camas County cabin with her dog.

The date was June 11, and McGill was alone at the couple's cabin located in the upper valley of the South Fork of the Boise River with the 30-pound Lily.

While walking outside around 9:30 a.m., a wolf suddenly appeared from out of the trees immediately behind her, McGill said. Viewing it as just another canine, Lily ran out in pursuit of the much larger wolf.

"She chased that wolf," McGill recalled during an interview this week.

She immediately began shouting for her dog to return, but to no avail.

"I thought it was the last I had seen of my dog," McGill said.

Fortunately, Lily came racing back to her owner only moments later. The obviously alarmed little dog apparently wanted nothing more than to get back inside the safety of the cabin.

"She knew she was in trouble," McGill said. "She stood at the door wanting in."

It was the first wolf sighting the couple had ever had near their cabin.

"We know there's wolves up there, but we hadn't seen any," McGill said.

Moments after returning to the cabin, McGill spotted two additional wolves outside the window, she said. One stood just outside the cabin near the edge of the forest, she said.

"It stared us down for about three minutes," McGill said. "It was the most scary thing."

Most surprising to her was the size of the wolf that first appeared behind her.

"It had to be waist height to me. It was huge," she said.

After the event, McGill reported the encounter to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Magic Valley regional office.

Such encounters highlight the peril dogs face in wolf country, Magic Valley Regional Supervisor Dave Parrish said.

Parrish said the McGill's dog was lucky. Many domestic dog-wolf encounters end up tragically for the dog, because wild wolves view any canine as a competitor, he said.

"Wolves are highly territorial," Parrish said. "They can become very aggressive when they come into contact with dogs."

For recreationists heading into known wolf country, Fish and Game has just one recommendation regarding pet dogs.

"You're better off to leave your dogs at home," Parrish said.

In places such as the Wood River Valley near Ketchum and Hailey and in the surrounding mountains, wolves have become a common part of the landscape, he said.

"There's a probability you will run into wolves," Parrish said.




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