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In this question, it was asked whether bear-spray was effective against other animals, such as wolves.

I know the old adage that "there has never been record of a healthy wolf attacking an adult" is not entirely true, but it seems the frequency of attacks may be sufficiently few and far between as to render it a non-issue.

So rather than give the wolf a bad rap by innuendo, I hope to get some clear answers on the risk of wolves to outdoor enthusiasts:

  • Are wolves a legitimate worry-worthy threat to back-country travelers?
  • What are my odds of encountering a wolf in the wild?
  • What are my odds of being attacked by a wolf?
  • Are there special precautions that one should take in wolf country that are different from standard bear precautions (which are often found in the same area)?
  • Are some wolf-inhabited regions known to be more dangerous than others?
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What area or region? This is going to be highly localized, please specify. – Russell Steen Feb 3 '12 at 2:51
Well I intended it to apply to regions where there are wolves ;) - but have added a slight clarification. – LBell Feb 3 '12 at 3:05
I would like to know this as well. I don't frequent areas with wolves usually, but it's always good to be prepared. – manoftheson Jan 21 '13 at 7:58

Here's the Wolf Safety guidelines and procedures for British Columbia Parks, and here's backcountry advice around wolves from the Predator Conservation Alliance, they basically say that wolves don't normally pose a threat, keep 100m distance, use bear spray if necessary.

I live in a national park that has two wolf packs, coyotes, cougars, black and grizzly bears. Nobody ever worries about the wolf packs, and general consensus is that when they are encountered it's never an issue. The coyotes aren't considered a danger unless they are in a pack (which is rare) or desperate (which is probably why there were in a pack).

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+1 for the anecdotal evidence / first-hand experience - but still looking for a definitive answer. – LBell Feb 4 '12 at 3:46
@LBell Are safety guidelines not definitive enough? – Dmitry Grigoryev Oct 21 '15 at 14:08
Yeah, I linked to two specific guidelines, one from a provincial park and another from a predator conservation agency, I don't see how either of those are anecdotal. – furtive Oct 22 '15 at 19:47

Wikipedia has very nice article about Wolf attacks on humans

  1. Wolves will avoid people like any other wild predator that is smaller than the average human. If you come between them and their young, you should just slowly back out of that situation and heed the wolf's warnings.

  2. Unless the wolves are threatened by you, the chances of an attack are very little. They will hear and smell you coming from far away. If you become their prey, well good luck, because wolves will come in packs. Your best bet is climb a tree or jump into water and try to swim to the other side. You will not out run them; they have insane endurance.

  3. Always keep a fire going at night. If you see signs of wolf tracks, such as scat or dead animals torn a part, keep walking a couple of miles further.

  4. As far as regions, I will refer you to Wolf attacks on humans again. I encourage you to read the Gray wolf Wikipedia article as well.

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