A dispersed camping area near Lake Superior has been closed after local wolves became habituated to human food. Visitors to the National Forest site had taken to feeding the animals, and sharing the details on social media.
“People were talking about, ‘Oh, I threw them donuts,’” Tofte District Ranger Ellen Bogardus-Szymaniak told WTIP North Shore Community Radio.
The closure is expected to last throughout July, and possibly longer. Rangers know that a breeding female wolf is in the area, so there's a strong possibility that there may be cubs in the vicinity as well. Wolves rarely attack, but are more likely to do so if they believe their young are threatened.
Attacks are also more likely if wild animals become comfortable around humans. Although campers may have thought they were helping the wolves by tossing their leftover pastries onto the trail, doing so ultimately puts the creatures in danger.
"With this wolf pack that’s been there for years and years and years, we want them to stay intact," said Bogardus-Szymaniak. " We don’t want to have to do anything to that pack. So we’re trying to manage the humans right now.
"So my plea is, whether you’re out for the afternoon and you’re picnicking, or you’re camping. I don’t care where you are on state land, federal land doesn’t really matter in your backyard. Don’t feed wild animals. Just don’t. It just is the wrong thing to do.”
Stay safe around wolves
Gray wolves were classified as an endangered species in the 1970s, but as rewinding efforts progress, you're increasingly likely to spot them while you're hiking and camping in the US. They typically fear humans, but just like bears, feeding them can cause them to lose that natural wariness.
If you meet a wolf on the trail and it doesn't immediately turn tail, there are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe. Firstly, don't run, as this can trigger the animal's instinct to take chase, and if you're walking with your dog, keep it on a leash close to your side
Stand up straight and make yourself look bigger by raising your arms. You can also life your backpack above your head if it's not too cumbersome. If it still refuses to back down, or is acting aggressively, make as much noise as possible by yelling, clapping, blowing your whistle, and using anything else you have to hand.
For more advice, see our guide what to do if you encounter a wolf
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.