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Dog attacked by three wolves up Cloquet Line

by Parker Loew

Due to an ‘invisible line,’ there is no action the USDA or DNR can take after a dog was attacked by three wolves up the Cloquet Line.

The attack happened early in the morning on Nov. 17, and although the dog had bite marks and a few minor injuries, it’s expected to make a full recovery.

“I went outside to my car with Stella (the dog). In a matter of seconds and only 20 feet away from me she was attacked by two wolves,” said Jessica Leeson, owner of the dog.

Stella and the wolves then ran into the woods behind Leeson’s house, fighting as they ran.

Leeson was able to see the first part of the fight in the trees as Stella is white and there is no snow on the ground. She said the wolves were brush colored and blended in well.

Eventually, Stella and the two wolves disappeared beyond the tree line out of sight of Leeson.

She ran into the house to see if their gun safe was open, but it wasn’t. She said she would have used them to make noise in an attempt to scare the wolves away, and not shoot at the wolves directly.

Leeson then ran back out of her house, deciding she would try and track her dog down through the woods. She left her house expecting the worst.

“I thought, okay, so now I am running toward my dead dog,” she said.

Right as she left her house to try and track down her dog, another wolf was looking back at her roughly 25 feet from where she was standing.

“A third wolf was standing on my retaining wall, just watching,” she said. “When I came out there, it kind of like looked at me and then like just meandered. Like there was no urgency.”

Leeson disregarded this wolf, determined to find her dog.

“I just started running for the woods,” she said. “I followed like a deer trail.”

After getting above a hill a few acres from her house, in an area with a lot of blowdown making it difficult for her to traverse, she saw Stella bolt down the hill from the corner of her eye.

She was covered in blood, but Leeson was overjoyed she was still alive.

Leeson said it doesn’t take much blood to make it look like she was covered in blood as Stella is pure white, so she couldn’t see how bad her injuries were.

“She was very clearly running for her life and the wolf behind her was messing with her,” she said. “It was like the goal was like to mess with her and wear her down kind of a thing.”

When Leeson saw Stella running, she turned and sprinted toward them, trying to get in between her dog and the wolf. Somehow, she eventually ended up back in her yard with Stella.

“I don’t know if I got in between them or if the noise and the screaming I was making was just enough to give her that much of a lead, but I never saw them again.”

Leeson picked Stella up, threw her in the car, and called the vet.

“As fast as it started, it was over,” she said. “Then at that point, all I knew was that she was alive.”

Thankfully, Stella only suffered flesh wounds, and although the wolves did take a sizable chunk out of her haunch, she was released from the vet later that day.

After the attack, Leeson’s husband Tim called the DNR and USDA to see what could be done regarding trapping the wolves but was told there wasn’t anything which could be done.

The Leesons live about a mile up the Cloquet Line near Cedar Lake, which lies in a zone one protection area, where no trapping or lethal removal of wolves can take place.

“Minnesota Fish and Wildlife Service designated that no lethal control of wolves related to domestic animals can occur in this area, only wolf attacks on humans can be cause for lethal trapping,” said Anthony Bermel, a conservation officer with the DNR.

Since it’s a federal issue, the DNR doesn’t have much say in the matter, and conservation officers such as Bermel can’t offer a helping hand to homeowners who seek help with wolves in the protection zone.

Unless the wolf is delisted from the endangered species list, there is not a lot USDA has authority to do either if pet attacks continue to happen in the zone.

“To have the wolves so comfortable by residences like that, it’s not real comforting,” said Bermel. “The dogs the wolves have been attacking haven’t been small either, they are big dogs, 50 pounds plus.”

Those who live in the protection zone, such as the Leeson’s, are having to change their lifestyle because of the increased aggression from the wolves.

“My dogs are good at staying in the yard which they love to run around in, now I need to bring them out on a leash every time they want to go to the bathroom,” said Leeson.

The USDA gave the Leeson’s some determent contraptions to try and keep the wolves away, but they didn’t know they would use them as they stated they were somewhat invasive.

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