Horse at­tacked by wolf

Sta­ble owner on Kraft Creek cau­tion­ing oth­ers af­ter one of her an­i­mals was se­verely in­jured.

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - SARAH MOORE

Theresa Matte and her 15-yearold horse, Finn, are still shaken up af­ter a wolf at­tacked and se­verely in­jured the an­i­mal ear­lier this month.

The in­ci­dent took place on Jan. 2 at her rid­ing fa­cil­ity, Stan­dard Sta­bles, on Kraft Creek Road. Matte re­calls she and other staff went out that morn­ing to check on the horses and do their nor­mal chores, only to find Finn stand­ing near a pool of blood from a large bite that was deep enough to ex­pose mus­cle.

“We no­ticed Finn was stand­ing at the back of the field while the rest of the horses were eat­ing, which seemed a bit un­usual,” she re­called. “There were ac­tu­ally crows or ravens around his feet, which was also very un­usual, as well.

“One of the kids went out to get him and re­al­ized how badly he was in­jured, and we could tell the area where he had ac­tu­ally been in­jured, by the amount of blood on the ground.”

She im­me­di­ately called her vet to find out how to care for the in­jured an­i­mal, be­fore pro­ceed­ing to call the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Forestry (MNRF) and some lo­cal hunters and trap­pers.

With the help of Steeve Lemieux, pres­i­dent of the Tim­mins Fur Coun­cil, they were able to de­ter­mine that it was in­deed a wolf that was re­spon­si­ble, judg­ing by the way the horse was at­tacked and the lo­ca­tion of the in­jury.

“The way that wolves at­tack is that they will usu­ally try to in­ca­pac­i­tate an an­i­mal by jump­ing up on their hindquar­ters, their neck or their legs and tak­ing a chunk out of them,” Matte said. “Be­cause all the mus­cle was pulled out, you could tell some­thing had bit­ten and dragged it. The bite was also up re­ally high, be­cause he’s such a tall horse, and typ­i­cally a coy­ote wouldn’t jump that high.”

Matte also spot­ted wolf tracks the next day.

“The horses weren’t out­side any- more af­ter that and the next night, we were able to see wolf tracks that came back, as if they were look­ing for him to see if he had got­ten tired enough that they could, at that point, take him down,” she said.

When deal­ing with larger an­i­mals, Lemieux con­firmed that wolves will typ­i­cally in­jure their prey and then come back later, when in­fec­tion has set in and the an­i­mal is weak­ened, to fin­ish the job.

Although Matte re­called that a bear had at­tacked one of her horses nearly 20 years ago, she said this is the first time they have had an in­ci­dent with a wolf. “We’ve heard them,” she ad­mit­ted, “but this is the first time we’ve ever had any­thing come this close to the prop­erty.”

Lemieux said the wolf likely came so close to Matte’s prop­erty sim­ply be­cause it spot­ted an “easy meal.”

“The horse has nowhere to go, he’s all fenced off, they don’t have to chase it that far,” he ex­plained. “For a moose, if they don’t catch it within the first 100 me­tres, they let it go but with this horse, it has nowhere to go.”

An ex­pe­ri­enced trap­per, Lemieux said he has caught his fair share of wolves be­fore.

He ex­plained the type of wolves com­mon to this area, Great Lakes-Bo­real Wolves, typ­i­cally roam a wide­spread area in packs, search­ing for food while si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­fend­ing the bound­aries of their ter­ri­tory from other wolves.

He also said there are “a lot of wolf packs around town” and that they have a “very healthy pop­u­la­tion” right now.

He is work­ing with other trap­pers and hunters who will set up snares and at­tempt to re­move the pack or draw it away from the farm.

Matte laments that she will un­for­tu­nately have to keep her horses in­side at night, for their own safety, un­til she knows the threat has been elim­i­nated.

Even then, she’s not sure she will ever feel se­cure hav­ing her horses and other an­i­mals out­side any­more, even though she likes be­ing able to give them as much fresh air as pos­si­ble.

“I can’t even say in the fu­ture if I will ever con­sider it safe to have my horses out overnight again,” she said. “If they can tell me that they’ve trapped the en­tire pack from the area then maybe I will try again, but I don’t know if I’ll sleep well un­til that point.”

Lemieux said that it can be hard to de­ter­mine if or when a wolf pack will re­turn to an area again. How­ever, he said they typ­i­cally won’t con­tinue to come back some­where if the food source has dis­ap­peared, and that keep­ing the an­i­mals in­side may de­ter them.

He also said that it is rare for a wolf to ever at­tack a hu­man.

“I wouldn’t re­ally be con­cerned as a per­son,” he said. “My­self, as a trap­per, I’ve never seen a live wolf other than when they’re caught in my trap. If you walk by them, they are prob­a­bly go­ing to run away or hide from you.”

If you have live­stock or pets on your prop­erty, how­ever, both he and Matte stress that you should take pre­cau­tions.

“It’s a word of cau­tion to any­one with dogs or live­stock, that live out in the coun­try, to keep an eye out for wolf tracks or, if they hear of wolves in their neigh­bour­hood, call up a hunter or trap­per, call the MNRF, let them know there is some­thing there be­fore some­thing hap­pens,” said Matte. “I know a lot of peo­ple re­ally like wolves, they are very beau­ti­ful an­i­mals. But, they have to also un­der­stand that they do have to be trapped and hunted be­cause when they are hun­gry, any­thing looks good to them – be it a horse, your dog, a cat, any­thing.”

The MNRF sug­gests keep­ing an­i­mals in­side or in a ken­nel at night, keep­ing pet food and garbage se­cured in­doors, and to con­sider in­stalling elec­tric fenc­ing and re­mov­ing bush and for­est cover that can help con­ceal preda­tors to help de­ter wolves.

Keep­ing your yard well-lit can also help to de­ter wolves from ap­proach­ing.

If you en­counter a wolf, the min­istry stresses that you should never ap­proach or touch it. In­stead, it is sug­gested that you do not turn your back or run, but rather, back away from it while re­main­ing calm.

If the wolf tries to ap­proach, stand tall, wave your hands, and make lots of noise and use whis­tles and per­sonal alarm de­vices to frighten it.

If the wolf poses an im­me­di­ate threat or dan­ger to pub­lic safety – call 911.

SARAH MOORE/ TIM­MINS DAILY PRESS

A wolf at­tacked 15-year-old Finn the horse while he was out­side at Stan­dard Sta­bles on Kraft Creek Road ear­lier this month. His owner, Theresa Matte, said he is ex­pected to make a full re­cov­ery aside phys­i­cally, but is psy­cho­log­i­cally still on edge. She is ad­vis­ing all live­stock own­ers in the area to be on the look­out and to take pre­cau­tions to en­sure the safety of their an­i­mals.

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