Home Featured Story Warning to Heber-Overgaard – Human-Wolf encounter in Section 31

Warning to Heber-Overgaard – Human-Wolf encounter in Section 31

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Stock photo of Mexican Gray wolves and not ones depicted in this article.

Heber-Overgaard, AZ—On Tuesday April 7th, a couple who live in Section 31 went outside to walk their dog, a 2 ½ year old Kuvasz that weighs about 100 pounds. Just as they got out front, three wolves ran by within about 10 feet of them and then stopped on their corner. Two of the wolves “stared down” the couple and their dog while the third one disappeared.

“They were big,” the witness told me, who wishes to remain anonymous. “They must have weighed 120 pounds each. Their heads were really big-kind of reminded me of a Rottweiler with the blocky head. They were brownish-blackish-tan colored. We often have bears around here, but they don’t really scare me. I threw a rock at a bear last year when it was after our chickens and it ran off. But, these…they scared me.”

The couple reported their encounter to Arizona Game & Fish – the Wolf Field Team. They were advised that if the animals attack their dogs on their (private) property they can shoot them but they can’t shoot them on federal land unless their lives (the couple’s) were threatened. They suggested they carry a weapon with them on their walks from now on. The witness expressed that now they walk the dog together, no longer alone, with a gun, with one person watching ahead and one watching the rear.

I understand her fear. I had an encounter last summer at dawn on my walk around the block in town. As I turned down Chevelon there was a commotion way down the street between a fenced dog and what I thought from that distance was a large dog in the road. The animal started down the road directly towards me and was moving at a quick clip.

Notice the coloring of the Mexican Gray wolf in the above photo as it’s similar to what I saw last year. It’s fur was a creamy tan and short - it was summer. The signature tail always is down, it’s ears are slightly rounded at the top and it has with large paws.
Notice the coloring of the Mexican Gray wolf in the above photo as it’s similar to what I saw last year. It’s fur was a creamy tan and short – it was summer. The signature tail always is down, it’s ears are slightly rounded at the top and it has with large paws.

As it got closer I realized this wasn’t a dog but was either a wolf or wolf-dog. There was nowhere for me to go except forward. All I could think of was to make myself big (in spirit only because I’m only 5 foot) and pray for God’s protection. It was large with the wolf mask face markings and looked to weigh around 80-100 pounds. I didn’t take my eyes off of it, and as it got within 10 feet I motioned with my eyes to stay away and get on down the road. You’re probably laughing at this point, but it looked straight into my eyes and kept on going east, crossed Mogollon and kept on. It must have not been hungry.

When I saw Jeff Dophin, the head biologist for AZGFD on the Interagency Field team in Eager a few weeks ago, I told him how the animal was huge and I was so afraid I didn’t remember to pull my camera phone out to snap a photo. Dolphin proceeded to tell me it was more afraid of me than I was of it (the normal reply). I emphatically said, “It was not afraid of me.” He suggested I may want to carry a weapon from now on.

I wish it had been afraid of me. I wish the wolves in Section 31 had been afraid of the couple in the first story. Unfortunately for us, fear doesn’t seem to be present. Animals are smart. If they’re around us humans and we don’t hurt them, they won’t fear us.

So, my friends, here’s your wakeup call. Use your head and watch your children. There is a wolf pack of at least five that’s believed to have set up shop around Artists’ Draw last year. A lone wolf has been spotted twice that I’ve heard of around the Big Red Barn. Wolves have lots of pups each spring. They may be illusive creatures but only until they’re hungry. Nobody puts out the feedbag for them every night so they are constantly looking for food.

Because of the wolf enthusiasts who’ve talked many into some romantic notion that these animals need to be brought back from the edge of extinction, we now are carrying heat to go out for a walk around the block in town.

There are many lies that have been told to the public the past few years about wolves – and one of the biggest is they don’t attack people. This is a falsehood. There haven’t been many recorded attacks in North America in the 20th century because beginning in the 1800s through the 1930s wolves were relentlessly hunted, trapped, and poisoned. The few that survived retreated far into the backwoods to avoid men. However, there is documented evidence that as the numbers of wolves are multiplying so too, are the wolf-human incidents. I just don’t want to see anybody get hurt because of some “experimental Mexican wolf population”.
Maybe we should bring back tyrannosaurus rex, too. That makes about as much sense.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department emails an Endangered Species Update monthly to which anyone can subscribe. Simply go to http://www.azgfd.gov/eservices/subscribe.shtml and sign up.
These updates on the wolves are for the Arizona and New Mexico areas. The wolves are named with “F” or “M” for female or male, plus their number.

Here are some excerpts from the March updates:
Incidents
During March there were 10 livestock depredation reports involving wolves and one nuisance report involving a dog and a wolf resulting in injury to the dog.

On March 3, Wildlife Services investigated one dead cow near Spur Lake Basin in New Mexico. The investigation determined the cow was killed by wolves. A second calf was investigated the same day in the same area and was confirmed to have been killed by wolves. The depredation was assigned as one incident to M1161.
On March 6, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Spur Lake Basin in New Mexico. The investigation determined the cow was killed by a wolf.

On March 8, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Hardcastle in New Mexico. The investigation determined the cow had been killed a wolf.

On March 13, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Aragon New Mexico. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

On March 19, Wildlife Services investigated a nuisance incident in which a dog was reported to have been attacked by a wolf near Collins Park in New Mexico. The injuries to the dog were confirmed as being caused by a wolf.

On March 24, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Springerville Arizona. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

On March 27, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Sand Flats New Mexico. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

On March 30, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Centerfire Creek in New Mexico. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

On March 30, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Strayhorse in Arizona. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

Two wolves, a male and female, were found dead on the Fort Apached Indian Reservation.

AZGFD ask you to report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to: (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653.
The Mogollon Rim News in interested in any sightings or updates as well. Please send your information to barb@mogollonrimnews.com or call 928-535-4106. All callers may remain anonymous.

1 COMMENT

  1. It’s hard to believe you haven’t received comments on this article yet … wolves become a devastating threat to livestock, people and pets. Although they’re slated to be released all across Arizona, south of I-40, if this pack is already established it’s very bad news for this area. They’re too close to residential areas, and are obviously habituated to humans.