WASHBURN COUNTY — Trail cameras captured wolves on a residential property northeast of the city of Spooner, WI after the homeowners say a wolf attacked their horse on their property.
The property owners, who live around Spooner Lake and requested their names not be used for this article, stated to DrydenWire.com that on the morning of September 27, 2019, they noticed their horse was bleeding from its leg from what appeared to them to be an animal bite.
After contacting the Wisconsin DNR, they were put in touch with a USDA Wildlife Specialist who handles these situations. That same day, the Wildlife Specialist (WS) went to their home. After doing an investigation, the WS was unable to definitively state the horse was attacked by a wolf and recommended the homeowners purchase a trail cam.
Two days later the homeowner's newly-installed trail cameras captured the following images:
They also noticed tracks on their property.
The owners then called the WS and showed him the photos.
“The USDA was very accommodating to our situation," the homeowners said. "We needed more proof -- which we understood -- and immediately after obtaining pictures and fresh tracks they jumped in to help us protect our animals.”
The WS returned and installed Fox Lighting (AKA: predator lighting), and a fourth line about 5” off the ground on their external fence - at no charge to the homeowners.
Since the installation of the additional fence line and Fox Lighting, the homeowners have not seen a wolf on their property.
Robert Willging, District Supervisor for the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services and Certified Wildlife Biologist, stated to DrydenWire.com that Wildlife Specialists are very well trained in determining whether or not an animal is attacked by a predator and the key to any successful determination is timing.
“The United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) program in Wisconsin partners with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to investigate wolf conflict complaints in the state, including complaints regarding possible wolf depredations to livestock and pets," said Willging. “USDA-WS specialists are highly trained in techniques used to determine if a domestic animal was attacked or killed by a predator. It is important that an accurate determination be made when suspecting a wolf depredation as a variety of other predators -- including bears and coyotes-- also sometimes attack or kill domestic animals. Domestic animals may become sick or injured from non-predator related causes as well -- such as disease and accidents. The key to a successful determination is an investigation conducted immediately after the suspected conflict occurs.”
Although the homeowners are happy the situation has seemingly been resolved, their concern is for others in the area as wolves tend to not travel too far away from one area.
“We just want people in our area to be aware they are around, they do exist, and they are not afraid to take on a large healthy horse," said the owners. "Be vigilant of your surroundings and check on your animals as often as you can.”
The wolves were spotted on a property near Spooner Lake
If an animal is injured on your property, and you think it was by a wolf or any other predator, Willging recommends calling the USDA.
“USDA-WS recommends that anyone who suspects a domestic animal was killed or injured by a wolf protect the evidence by covering the carcass with a tarp, covering tracks or scat with buckets, and immediately contacting USDA-WS at 1-800-228-1368 (for northern Wisconsin) or 1-800 433-0663 (for southern Wisconsin).
And the horse? After a lot of TLC, the owners say he’s doing fine.
"We feel very fortunate our horse has made a full recovery minus some scarring left behind. This could have been so much worse than it was.”