Wolves don't attack people … of course not. They just hunt field mice. Sure!
Well, tell that to the family of a little 3-year-old girl who was playing at a picnic area in Ontario's Lake Superior Provincial Park in Canada last summer. As the girl played, unaware of the danger, a male wolf suddenly came on the scene and bit into the girl's are and started dragging her away.
When the girl's grandparents chased away the wolf, the animal wandered down the beach where it found fresh prey. Brenda Wright and her children had just finished their picnic lunch when the wolf lunged at Brenda's 12-year-old son, tearing into his buttocks. Then the wolf turned its attention on the boy's sister and took her by the scalp. When Brenda attempted to protect her children, the wolf slashed her hands and legs.
It's no secret that the government's decision to reintroduce wolves in parts of America where that animal was a natural predator in the past has succeeded far beyond anyone's expectations. The wolves are breeding like rabbits, and roving packs are starting to move around the upper-tier of Americans states, taking their food wherever they can find it. And they're finding a lot of it. Ranchers are now fighting hard to keep wolf predation of their flocks and herds at bay.
As can be seen from the incidents I mentioned above, it's not just sheep and calves that are at risk. Domestic dogs are being slaughtered by wolf packs in some areas of the country, and even humans are not off the wolf menu. In fact, I've got 8 pages of reports about wolf attacks on humans (and not just children, but adult men and women), so don't get the idea that the two incidents mentioned above are an anomaly.
Keep in mind that these animals are not particularly afraid of humans, so they will walk right into your camp and take your food off your plate, rummage through your tent, and chase you up a tree. So what are you supposed to do to protect yourself in an encounter with wolves?
- Up a tree — that's not a bad idea. Wolves can't climb trees, so you are safe if you can get up one. However, the wolf (or the pack) might just take up residence at the base of the tree and wait for you to get tired and come down.
- Maintain a clean camp to keep from attracting wolves into camp with the smell of food.
- Don't run, as that will only stimulate the wolf to attack. You can't outrun them, so you have to stand and fight for your life.
- Try to make yourself look as large as possible. Wave your arms and coat, hoist a backpack overhead to make you look bigger.
- Do not make eye contact, because that is taken as an act of aggression on your part and might trigger an attack.
- Don't grin or show your teeth, for the same reason.
- Get on your feet and kick, scream and fight back. Wolves have been known to attack humans as they slept in sleeping bags, where the victim is at a serious disadvantage. The sooner you can get up on your feet and start yelling at the wolf and fighting back, the better.
- Use any weapon at hand, a club, a walking staff, a knife, a gun, a mountaineering axe.
- Try to strike its nose, as this is a very sensitive area.
- Protect your face and throat by using your forearm to fend off the attack.
- As last resort, ram your fist down the animal's throat. You will get torn up a bit, but the wolf won't be able to rip up more critical parts of your body.
- Stay in groups. Wolves are less likely to attack if you are in a large group than if you are alone.
- Maintain a fire in camp all night, because wolves don't like fire.