Wolf Interactions With Humans and Domestic Pets

  • Wild wolves generally fear and avoid people, rarely posing a threat to human safety.
  • Since about 1950, there have been two apparent wolf-caused human fatalities in North America (Canada and Alaska).
  • Two broad summaries published in 2002 documented 28 reports of wolf aggression towards humans in North America from 1969 to 2001.  Nineteen of these involved wolves habituated to humans.  Domestic dogs were present in 5 of the incidents.  There have been no physical attacks on people in Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming from the time wolf recovery began in the 1980s until the present.
  • Wolves can become habituated to humans in areas where they regularly encounter humans or human food.
  • To prevent habituation, wolves should never be fed, approached, or allowed to come near people.
  • Wolves view domestic dogs as competitors or territorial intruders and have attacked and killed them, especially in remote areas.
  • Owners of dogs need to be aware of the potential risk to their dogs if they are in wolf habitat, especially when guarding or herding livestock, hunting, accompanying hikers, or running at large.
  • Wolves rarely interbreed with other canid species, including dogs, because behavioral differences usually keep them distinct.
  • Wolf –dog hybrids kept as pets and pet wolves complicate wolf conservation efforts when they are released or escape to the wild. They are potentially dangerous and can be mistaken for wild wolves.