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BobT

This was cool!

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I have maintained that deer are not instinctively fearful of wolves and I do not believe they will bolt at the very sense or sight of a wolf in the vicinity. This evening I saw something that totally reinforces my viewpoint.

Just before dark this evening I was out enjoying a beer and a cigar by the fire when I noticed a deer meandering across my alfalfa field east of my house. I went and got my binoculars to watch it for a while. Eventually it worked its way east over the crest of a hill so it was out of my sight.

After a few minutes went by I looked up and noticed a deer further south of where I last saw the other one disappear so I got my specs and was surprised to see a fawn and a doe. I figured this was another doe.

As I watched them I noticed that they seemed a bit interested in something to the west of them but they didn't seem to be too alarmed so I figured maybe there was another deer behind them. As they grazed the doe worked her way east until I couldn't see her but the fawn remained in view.

After watching them for a while I put down the optics for a moment to stir my fire and when I brought them up again I couldn't find the fawn. After a few moments I caught some movement in the alfalfa and thought it was the fawn but I was surprised to see that it was a wolf and it appeared to be trailing the deer. Eventually he too disappeared over the null and so I fully expected to see three deer take off over the horizon.

To my surprise I saw movement and here came the wolf with two does chargin its tail. They put themselves between the wolf and the fawn and one chased the fawn one way and the other occupied the wolf. Once the fawn was out of danger the pair both confronted the wolf keeping it at bay. It continued to circle around but the mother of the fawn took the fawn and kept it so the does were able to stay between the wolf and the fawn.

One other unique thing was that the doe doing most of the work challenging the wolf was not the mother but in fact was the other doe. They didn't blow or act unusual but seemed to just casually keep the wolf under control until it gave up and went on its way. Once it was gone they went back to grazing my alfalfa.

I wouldn't have thought that they would have done this considering they were not trapped or cornered and had plenty of room to flee. It was a unique experience.

Edit: I neglected to mention that although I have said it was a wolf, it was equally possible that it was a coyote. If it was a coyote it was a big one.

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Cool story. It might have been a coyote, I didnt think there were any wolves around Osakis.

I would agree with you that it was more likely a coyote however, wolves are occasionally spotted but they are rare. Too open around here. They were about 250-300yds away and with the height of the alfalfa it was hard to get a good look at him.

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Cool story.

Even in the best of conditions through glasses a big coyote a ways a way can look very much like a wolf. Biggest tell is the tan color, leg length and head size. Light conditions and a host of other things can scue all that though.

That had to be treat to watch.

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I think I would disagree about the deer not instinctively fearing coyotes/wolves, however the deer probably know when they are in danger. Those does knew one coyote wasn't a threat to them so they stood up to it to protect the fawn, had there been 2 or 3 it might have been a different story and they would have run for the hills.

Where I hunt, when a pack of wolves come through the area the deer are gone for 2-3 days before we start seeing them again. If we see tracks from a single wolf moving through the area the deer don't seem as bothered.

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Had a pack of wolves on my trail camera from Friday night. Some awesome pics.

Where were the pics taken? There are no packs of wolves in the St. Cloud area, a loner maybe.

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Deer have been known to reer up and render a fatal blow to the head of a wolf from time to time. This obviously doesnt happen often, but deer can definitly defend themselves against lone wolves. I had a zoologist tell me this. If you think about how powerful a deers legs are, and the force they can emit; pretty amazing. If the neck of the wolf doesnt break, I would think the head trauma would be like get hit with a baseball bat.

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The deer might know not to make a target of themselves by running. Likely the fawn couldn't keep up to avoid the predator. A friend sometimes drops his G shorthair in the kennel with my huskies. He eventually learned not to run all over inviting the chase by a dozen faster Sibs. Now he goes in a stands there chosing not 'IT' all the time.

Might be similar.

So, I agree. Between elk and deer hunting in wolf country, the animals just adjust their survival tactics - move to the next ridge or cover.

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Quote:
So, I agree. Between elk and deer hunting in wolf country, the animals just adjust their survival tactics - move to the next ridge or cover.

I'm sure they do but only until they feel the threat no longer exists. Wolves are still not a serious enough threat to the deer population especially to warrant this "kill 'em all" attitude some of you guys seem to have.

I did a little digging and this is a synopsis of my findings.

Deer are killed by wolves at an average rate of about 1 deer per wolf every 21 days. Although the article was written in 1988 the ratio should be somewhat similar today. One might argue that there are more wolves today and that would be accurate but also it should be noted that the deer herd is about double today what it was in 1988. (Impact on Wolves by White-tailed Deer in North Central Minnesota, by Todd K. Fuller.)

Quote:
Wolves prey primarily on large, hoofed mammals. The usual prey of wolves in Minnesota is white-tailed deer, supplemented by beaver and moose; in some areas wolves feed almost exclusively on moose. Other animals are eaten, but form and insignificant part of the wolf's diet. If wolves ate only deer, each wolf would consume 15-20 adult-sized deer per year. Given the 1997-98 estimate of 2,450 wolves in Minnesota, that would equal about 36,750 to 49,000 deer killed by wolves. In comparison, from 1995-1999 hunter's killed between 32,300 to 78,200 deer each year in Minnesota's wolf range. In addition, several thousand deer are killed during collisions with vehicles each year: In Minnesota wolf range, there are approximately 200 deer for every wolf. Elsewhere, wolves prey on caribou, musk oxen, bison, Dall sheep, mountain goats, etc.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture legally kills approximately 100-200 problem wolves in Minnesota each year for depredation on livestock. This involves approximately five farms per 1000 in wolf range, one cow per 10,000 available, and one sheep per 1,000 available. The State Department of Agriculture pays compensation up to $750 per animal for verified complaints. Recent legislation mandates compensation of fair market value.

The above is from the Minnesotans For Sustainability. Summary, Wolves and Wolf Management, 2001.

Source, International Wolf Center, Ely, MN

Quote:
Wolves in the Great Lakes region normally consume 15-18 deer per wolf per year (Fuller 1995). At a rate of 18 deer per wolf pack per year an average Wisconsin wolf pack of four wolves on a 70-square mile territory would consume about 72 deer or about 1 deer per square mile. Wisconsin's wolf population in 1999 consisting of about 200 wolves probably consumed 3,000 -3,600 deer. The total 1998 harvest within the central and northern forest zones where wolves occur was 112,936 by firearm hunters, 29,266 by bow hunters and another 10,000 by motor vehicles.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Appendix E: Impact of Wolves on Deer in Wisconsin.

by Ronald N. Schultz, Keith R. McCaffery, and Adrian P. Wydeven

From the National Wildlife Federation, 2005

Estimated average annual deer harvest by species

7,000 - bobcats (2 per cat)

9,100 - wolves

12,000 - black bear

12,600 - motor vehicle collisions

16,000 - coyotes

35,000 - winter stress

160,000 - hunters (bow and firearms)

From what I've been reading, hunters are the deer's biggest threat followed by winter kill. This is repeated in most of the articles I found. Also repeated is that wolves are not a serious threat to the deer population.

I suspect that some of you guys are just plain afraid of wolves and have it in your brain that they all must die.

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Bob,

Got nothing against wolves, in fact genetically my Sibs are closer wolves than any other dog breed (except Samoyeds.)

When hunting in wolf and cat country I still see elk. The wolves stake out a home area any basically stay there. The elk are nomadic so simple move like they do anyway. After a snow I saw cat, wolf, bear, elk and deer tracks all within a 100 yds.

Hunters like to blame wolves for less elk, in ID last year there were so many deer it's hard to believe a wolf would risk itself trying to take an elk when deer are safer. Besides, elk predatation is largely bear related to calves. They'll park on a trail for days just waiting.

I do know that more wolves mean less hunters!

I'll give any predator respect that can live off their own hunting skills. It's the nest robbers I despise, coons, skunks, oppossums! Canines keep those pests in check.

I'l like to see those trail cam pics!

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

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