Photographer's Note

Hi all,
Hope you and yours are well. I just got back into town from a trip to see family,
Thought I would share with you the most amazing experience of my July 19 trip to Cascade River State Park.

click on the "Workshop" for the other image .. this one really shows him for what he is .. the worskhop is technically better.

This is a wild Gray Wolf (also known as a Timber Wolf) one of the true treasures of Minnesota .. There are about 2,500 wild wolves in Northern Minnesota. Their main range along the North Shore of Superior begins about 20 miles from Duluth near the resort town of Two Harbors. As I was researching my encounter I found several stories of people coming to the Lutsen ski resort (near this encounter) and listening to the howling at night from their hot tubs. ...

Here is the story of our encounter:

We had driven up the coast of Superior to this park .. the water falls have long been on my to do list .. after finishing hiking around the park and photographing the falls (see me last two posts) we packed up for the 90 minute drive back down the shore to home.

We decided to create a picnic .. but were having trouble finding a suitable grocery store .. we had just passed the tiny resort town of Lutsen ... We had thought Lutsen was bigger than it actually was .. so we turned down a small road to see if you could find "more town" ..

Loping down the side of the road was a large animal .. my wife said "is that a deer" .. for a moment I thought it was a young moose ...

as we neared him .. it was very evident it was the wild Minnesota resident I have most longed to see .. We drove by him at 10 mph .. my daughters plastered against the car window staring out at "Wolfie" as the quickly dubbed him.

I was furious at myself for putting my camera in the trunk .. with our abundant wildlife I most often drive around with my 400mm resting next to me .. but of course this one time I had put it in the trunk ..

A couple hundred yards ahead there was a pull off into a field on the opposite side of the road from Wolfie .. we pulled over .. I hopped out of the car .. ran around to the trunk .. got my camera out and set ..

Our friend here seemed like he was on a mission .. he paid me little notice as I stood by my car door shooting as he came down the road and passed just across from me ...

Then a car came by at high speed and Wolfie decided that was enough and headed down a smaller gravel path into the forest ...

We spent the rest of our drive debating on whether we had truly seen a wolf or just a giant dog .. This post is the one that settled it for me .. the workshop is the technically better image .. but it doesn't show the "nature of the beast" as well as the
main post.

The wolf compared to a dog has longer legs, large front paws, longer snout, and a narrow body ... (wolf dog comparison: )

from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:
Among the lower 48 states, Minnesota is unique because it supports a large number of timber wolves. A full grown timber wolf weighs from 70 to 100 pounds. Powerfully built with steel-strong jaws, muscular legs, and large feet, the wolf is an efficient predator. A typical Minnesota wolf is mixed gray in color with yellowish sides and darker gray on the back. However, individuals vary from almost solid black to buff-white.
In Minnesota, wolves eat a variety of large and small animals, but white-tailed deer make up about 80 percent of their diet. Beaver are often taken in the spring and summer, while deer, and a few moose, are taken more frequently in winter. In areas of mixed farms and forest, domestic livestock are sometimes preyed upon. However, wolves prefer the large, extensive forest areas of northern Minnesota.

General description: A large gray mammal with a long, bushy tail and dog-like appearance. Many say it looks like a tall German shepherd or a large coyote.

Length: About 40 to 52 inches, with 13- to 19-inch tail.

Weight: Between 60 to 120 pounds (coyotes weigh between 25 and 35 pounds).

Color: Most are gray, but some are black, brown, or reddish.

Wild wolves create a tension between naturalists and farmers & ranchers. The wolves will on occasion kill livestock. There are fears in Minnesota that the wolves have become so successful in the North Woods that they will begin to expand into the farming areas of the Southern and and Western portions of the state.

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Additional Photos by John McLaird (jmcl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2514 W: 131 N: 4070] (14535)
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