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Ino logger has close encounter with wolves
By Darrell PendergrassBy Darrell PendergrassBy Darrell Pendergrass
The County Journal
Last Updated: Sunday, May 02nd, 2004 12:43:15 PM

INO — There are roughly 350 wolves in Wisconsin, and Paul Peters of rural Ino recently got up close and personal with three. A little too close for his liking.

A lifelong logger and pulp cutter, the 39-year-old Peters was roughly 300 to 400 yards behind his home north of U.S. Hwy. 2 cutting in a stand of aspen during the morning of Thursday, April 22. Taking a break and sitting on a log Peters saw a big-bodied animal passing through the woods roughly 100 yards away.

“I thought it was a deer at first, but as it got closer to the clearing in front of me I could see it was a wolf,” Peters said. “And then I noticed there were two others with it.”

Once they spotted Peters the wolves began loping in his direction, quickly cutting the distance between themselves and where he sat.

"As soon as the big one came into the clearing it saw me, and started coming in my direction,” Peters said. “When the big one got within 50 feet I stood up and started yelling — What's wrong with you! Get out of here! But it didn’t stop."

The lead wolf, which the 6-foot-1 Peters estimates at 150-pounds stood midway to his chest, and kept approaching from directly in front.

“So I picked up my chainsaw, started it up and began swinging it around,” Peter said. “I’ve never seen a wolf that big in my life. But I thought that would scare it.”

The wolf paused, according to Peters, paced back and forth for several moments, and began moving toward him again. Peters’ skidder was roughly 100 feet away and he decided to make his way toward it.

“I figured I had to get to that machine. Then I realized I wasn’t paying attention to the two other wolves, and I started looking for them,” Peters said.

According to Peters, one of the two smaller wolves had positioned itself to his right and the other to his left, in what he describes as ‘flanking’ movements.

"I’ve never had anything like this happen to me. They went into hunt mode just like that,” Peter said.

Peters said he walked half way toward the skidder and ran the rest. When he leapt onto the skidder the wolves were roughly 20 feet behind him.

“They either ran or moved quickly to get that close when my back was turned,” Peters said. "It was happening so fast, it was pretty creepy, like a bad dream."

Peters’ male labrador retriever was also in the woods during this time. According to Peters the wolves never focussed on his dog and his dog never seemed to notice the wolves. But when he got on his skidder his dog was right there, and he reached down and grabbed it and headed out of the woods.

“When I first saw the wolves my dog was lying down behind a little hill, there’s no way they saw him. They saw me,” Peters said.

Peters drove his skidder through the woods, with the wolves following until they were within a hundred yards of his house.

“When I got in the driveway I looked back and could see them moving away,” Peters said.

On Monday Peters returned back to the logging site for the first time, his helmet still perched on the log on which he sat, a pack of cigarettes tossed along the path he took to the skidder. A search for tracks on this morning was futile after a weekend’s worth of rain had washed out any signs of what had happened.

Peters has spent thousands of hours in the woods during his logging career. Today, when he’s working in the woods, Peters carries a pistol.

“I’ve seen everything in the woods — wolves, bears, bobcat — everything. I’m comfortable in the woods,” Peters said. "But I was intimidated by those wolves, that big one kept coming at me.

“In all my life nothing ever has gotten aggressive with me. Nothing has ever shown aggressiveness like this."

Peters doesn’t characterize his wolf encounter as an attack. He didn’t see any jaws snapping or hear any growling. But Peters did have the wolves approach him in an uncomfortable fashion, leading to speculation that they may have been in human contact at one point in their lives, possibly having been fed sandwiches or touched.

"These things showed no fear of me. They're not afraid of people apparently,” Peters said. "I just want people to know. There’s a lot of people who walk around here on the Tri-County Corridor. They need to know that at least for these three wolves, they aren’t afraid of people.

“Maybe they thought I was a sandwich.”

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