The Barking Wolf

The following is a true story told by Anna Schmidt. If this is being shared with a group, following the 2nd paragraph, the group can be asked what they would expect the wolf to do. Following the story, they can compare their expectations with the reality of the wolf's behaviors. A good follow-up to this story is the video "An Encounter with a Wolf".

My name is Anna and I’m a wildlife biologist. I was on a work trip near Glacier National Park with a federal wolf biologist.  It is the job of the Wolf Biologist to study the wolves and to know where they are. On this day we took a hike out to a known wolf den. Our plan was to howl from a distance of the den to see if any wolves would howl back. If they did, we would know that the wolves were still using the den.

 

We drove down a logging road, got out of the car and hiked to where our GPS told us to go. But the GPS coordinates we were given were a little off.  Instead of howling from the logging road into the woods at a respectful distance like we intended, we found ourselves howling close to the den.  We heard some adult wolves howl back. Then we heard the yipping kind of howl from pups! And then we heard a deep bark from within the shadows of the forest, right next to us. We could not see the wolf.

 

When wolves bark, they are usually giving a warning. Hearing this, we slowly went back down the logging road the way we came from. The barking wolf followed us for about half a mile.  All the time the wolf kept hidden. 

 

If that wolf wanted to, at anytime he could have lunged at us or worse!  The rest of the pack could have backed up with an attack.  But there wasn't a growl like the movies portray and there wasn't any attack.  Even when strange humans were at the active wolf den's door, the wolf simply stood its ground with a bark.  It was as if he was peacefully escorting us away from his den and pups. He never showed any aggression.

 

I don't know many other wild animals (or humans) who would respond in that non-aggressive manner when protecting their young. 

 

This is a true story told from the experience of Anna Schmidt, Wildlife Biologist

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife provides information on the unlikely event of wolf-human interactions.