As a Northern Wisconsin resident, I’d say I spend quite a bit of my time in the woods. Not only in Wisconsin forests, but also quite a bit in the northern Minnesota / Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) as well as the upper peninsula of Michigan. All of which are prime habitat for Great Lakes wolves. Have I ever felt threatened?

Never.

At least not by wolves. Why? Because wolves are terrified of us. And if you have ever felt your safety threatened by a wolf, you might consider that you were somewhere you shouldn’t have been. Maybe that was a mother wolf rearing its pups in a den 50 yards from where you were standing. In these instances, it is useful to imagine putting yourself in such a position. What if a wolf came strolling up to your home and lingered around your kids as they were playing in your back yard? As a parent or guardian, would you go on the defense a little bit too? The same mentality goes for bears, wild cats — even deer.

My dog was actually attacked by an aggressive doe one spring. The deer charged at Reagan and flipped her over right before my eyes. She was just a mother protecting her fawn. If you don’t have kids of your own (I don’t either), try to pause for a moment to understand what that might be like to have some strange, potentially dangerous creature trespassing on your territory threatening your innocent, helpless young ones.

And then, maybe instead of resulting to the notion that that creature is dangerous and therefore needs to be killed, perhaps we could learn to respect the fact that we, along with all other living things, are simply trying to get by on this planet together.

Note: In all my research, I still have never been able to supply one single case of a healthy wolf attacking a human in North America. There are however, approximately 130 people killed across the US by deer every year, ironically enough.

Photography by Joel Sartore

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