Predator in the distance

A photograph of what appears to be a wolf on Otter Tail Lake. Department of Natural Resources officer Tricia Plautz stated that wolves, coyotes and other predators have been known to make their homes in and around Otter Tail County.

After a timber wolf was allegedly seen on Otter Tail Lake, Tricia Plautz, Department of Natural Resources officer has some simple advice for people who own pets – a little common sense can be the best protection.

“Most people around the lakes keep their dogs inside unless they have to go outside to go to the bathroom,” Plautz said. “I don’t feel like there is any threat around these lakes that anyone’s dogs are going to get eaten by a wolf but we do live in more of a wilderness so there are other animals as well.” Plautz said

Monday the picture of the animal spotted on Otter Tail Lake had not been confirmed as being a wolf. The animal could have also been a coyote.

While both predators have been known to prey on domesticated animals Plautz said it is “extremely rare for a coyote to attack a dog.”

Coyotes are both hunted and trapped all over Minnesota, wolves are a different story.

“We do have timber wolves in Otter Tail County, quite a decent-sized pack, but the state hasn’t formed their plan yet on how they are going to be controlled now that they are off the federal protected list,” Plautz said.

A couple living northwest of Deer Creek near the Leaf River lost a pet deer to a wolf pack some years ago. After the pack somehow frightened the deer out of its pen, a federal trapper was brought in to deal with the pack. Four of the wolves were trapped. The night he trapped the largest one he heard howling from four different points on the property. The trapper said they were trying to find their missing member.

Plautz said the wolves were only following their instincts in killing the pet deer.

“That’s kind of their demeanor,” Plautz observed.

The state had a plan in place prior to wolves being returned to the federal endangered list. The big predators could be hunted and trapped. A livestock owner could also legally protect their herd. Plautz said Monday another plan is coming from the state but at this point she does not know when it will go into effect.

Mountain lions, also known as cougars, have also shown up on local wildlife cameras. These big cats usually stay on the move and like wolves, prefer to prey on wild game.

“There has been confirmation of cougars in Wadena, possibly Otter Tail County,” Plautz said. “They are generally going to go after that game that is easy pickings, injured or sick.”

Wild animals are not the only predators out there. One of the bigger problems during the deer season has been dog packs running at large. In years with a lot of snow it can be difficult for wild game to escape these packs.

“It is the owner’s responsibility to keep their dog at home,” Plautz said.

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