“Wolves don’t turn and run away immediately like we’re used to with other animals,” said Carolyn Sime, gray wolf program coordinator with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. “The other thing that kind of makes it unnerving is the intensity of their eyes. It’s partly the color, and partly the intensity of the way they’re looking at you.”
Yeah, but does the spine-tingling stare mean you’re about to become his lunch? Not likely, though having your dog along complicates things.
In fact, wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare. But wolves might not run off so quickly if a hiker has a dog along. Northern Rockies gray wolves have killed at least 83 dogs since 1987, and last year killed 30 of their own number in territorial disputes.
“Wolves consider dogs as strange wolves,” said Bangs. “A dog may think that a wolf barking or howling is a dog that wants to play. Trust me, that is not the case.”
Other instances where wolves might act aggressively is near a den or a kill site.
“If you come into an area where you see a kill, particularly if it’s kind of fresh, back out of there and go someplace else,” said Sime.
Here’s a clue: if you can’t smell rotting flesh, it’s probably fresh (though I doubt a wolf would let you get within olfactory range).