The following article appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express for the
week of May 28 - June 3, 2003. View the original article online at
Don't take a dog into wolf country
By Gregory Foley, Express Staff Writer
"For the good of your dog, I would
not take your dog out in wolf country."
— Carter Niemeyer, wolf
recovery coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Despite their blood relation,
wolves and dogs do not belong together, a pair of wolf experts said
earlier this month.
Carter Niemeyer, wolf recovery
coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said that although
wolves are typically timid around humans, people should be very careful
in deciding whether to take their dogs into wolf country.
"They will kill your dog," he
said. "For the good of your dog, I would not take your dog out in wolf
Niemeyer, who has worked around
wolves and other wild animals since 1975, said wolves usually shy away
from humans and resort to barking and yipping like dogs when approached
from a distance. However, they will not tolerate the presence of other
canines and will act quickly to eliminate any perceived competitors.
Curt Mack, gray wolf project
leader for the Nez Perce Tribe, said wolves are so intolerant of dogs
because they are highly territorial. "Dogs are viewed as competition,"
The wolf experts said the best
advice for dog owners who venture into wolf territory is to leave their
pets at home. Dogs, even larger breeds that are typically self
sufficient, should never be allowed to stray ahead on hikes into areas
where wolves are known to frequent, they noted.
Mack noted that the wolf’s
inaccurate reputation as a reckless killer ironically comes in part from
its inadequacy as a predator. Unlike cougars—which are built for taking
down large prey and often hide the signs of their kills—wolves must
harass, tire and bite their prey to take it down, usually leaving
gruesome signs of their hunting activity.
"Wolves are not very specialized
predators," Mack said. "They’re basically, big dogs, and they have a
tough time out there making a living."