10 May 2007

Close Encounter of the Lupine Kind

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Mike Olson had been working under his dad’s deck for about 20 minutes when he realized he wasn’t alone. “I cocked my head back, and I saw those two eyes looking at me,” Olson said of the Monday encounter. “I got out real fast.”

Olson had seen what he thought was a gray wolf (Canis lupus -JDZ). “It was probably 6 feet away,” he said. “It was just laying down. It had its head up and was just looking at me.”

Olson and his dad, Erling, called the police, who responded expecting to find a large, wolf-like dog beneath the deck.

“They put their head under the deck, and sure enough, it was a wolf,” said Craig Mattson, deputy chief for the Thief River Falls Police Department.

Police and the city’s animal control officer were unable to put a noose around the wolf’s neck and capture it alive, Mattson said. He said the animal had been growling and appeared to have mange, a parasitic infestation of the skin. So, a section of planking was removed and an officer shot the 104-pound male wolf, Mattson said.

It’s the first time Mattson can remember a wolf in town.

As for Olson, he cautiously went back to work on the deck Tuesday.

“I’m going to look twice,” he said.

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