Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2015
KELLOGG — A young male wolf made its home much of late spring and summer in farmland near Kellogg, said Mike Tenney, and "everybody thought it was kind of interesting."
When it killed two calves at the end of August, however, "it was the end of the love affair," said the area Department of Natural Resources wildlife supervisor.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service from Grand Rapids was called in, it trapped the wolf and it was euthanized, he said.
An official with the service said that it might not be the last wolf in the region because wolves are expanding west from Wisconsin more toward the coulee country along the Upper Mississippi River. It's possible the southeast could eventually have a full pack.
Tenney said the DNR started getting reports about the wolf near Kellogg as early as April. The DNR even had pictures from cell phones and other devices. He declined to say exactly where because he doesn't want people calling landowners.
The wolf, a 2-year-old male, stayed in the same area, which is unusual because wolves that do show up in the region usually move through, he said.
When it killed calves, the experts from Grand Rapids came down, and confirmed "the calves were killed by a wolf or wolves," he said.
While no one can be sure where it came from, the best bet is that it came from Wisconsin because Wisconsin's established wolf packs are much closer to this area than Minnesota's established wolf packs, which are up north. "It makes sense that a wolf came across the (Mississippi) river," Tenney said. The wolf, which weighed about 80 pounds, probably got kicked out of its pack and began to roam around to find a new home, he said.
Wolves are found every now and then in the region, including one killed trying to cross U.S. Highway 52 north of Rochester many years ago, he said.
John Hart, district supervisor for the federal service in Grand Rapids, said that while this wolf was not the first, it is different in one sense: "It's the first time we have ever documented any wolf damage in Southeast Minnesota."
Experts found "the wounds on the calf were consistent with what a wolf would do," Hart said. The tracks were the right size, too.
It was killed for two reasons, Hart said.
First, "we really don't know where to move them," he said. All the good wolf habitats in Minnesota and Wisconsin "are full of wolves already."
Second, "no one wants a known livestock killer," he said. Euthanizing such wolves has been a federal policy for several decades and "that has been a real successful approach," he said.
With packs moving closer to Southeast Minnesota from Wisconsin, it could happen that this region will have a pack, he said. The area has woods, valleys, deer and other prey. "As long as you have deer to eat and enough cover," you could have a pack, he said. In fact, habitat in this area is better than wolf habitat in northwest Minnesota, Hart said.
"It's not a habitat issue," he said. "It's wolves getting there, settling down and not causing any issues."