The Department of Natural Resources estimates that Wolf Zone 6, which includes Marathon County and extends as far as the Illinois border, has 34 wolves spread among 11 packs, including seven lone wolves. But a map of probable pack ranges shows the packs not traveling much farther south than the eastern corner of Wood County and across a top portion of Portage County.
Rumors have moved through Rothschild that wolves are responsible for injuring livestock and other animals in the area recently, but Village President George Peterson said the last time any livestock was reportedly attacked by wolves, police considered the report “speculation” and could not confirm a wolf-related killing.
And if any livestock had been killed recently, chances are the owner would have filed for compensation with the Department of Natural Resources. The last verified wolf attack on livestock reported in Marathon County was the death of a calf in September 2014, according to DNR records.
On May 11, a calf did go missing from a farm near Weston, but Brad Koele, a wildlife damage specialist, said an investigation could not confirm if it was a wolf-related incident.
Peterson did see one particular pair of wolves on his own property adjacent to Weston, but that was more than a year ago.
And even with suspicions of wolves prowling around, Peterson said no one should be surprised to see a wild animal wander through a neighborhood. Peterson said the residential area in Rothschild is expanding and pushing into wooded areas in some spots. Not only are animals likely to walk right through lawns, but the properties are encroaching on animal territory, he said.
Peterson said much of the Rothschild area is semi-wild; people have become used to co-habitation. He cited areas like Gaska Park and the Cedar Creek wetlands. “Who knows what is in there?” he said. Other confirmed wolf packs live between Eau Claire and Adams County.
Koele said the DNR does not keep track of wolf sightings, and Capt. Kevin Ostrowski of the Rothschild Police Department said he can’t remember the last time he received a report of a wolf sighting. Weston Village Administrator Daniel Guild said he likewise hasn’t heard of any wolf sightings in the area.