After terrifying wolf encounter, N.W.T. woman faces media storm and naysayers
Joanne Barnaby is fielding movie offers and skepticism about whether a wolf really stalked her for 12 hours
A woman's account of how she was stalked by a wolf has earned her celebrity status, but also questions from those who doubt the plausibility of her tale.
Last Friday, Joanne Barnaby says, she was hunted by a wolf in the N.W.T. wilderness for 12 hours. She was morel mushroom picking near Fort Smith with her dog Joey, when the hungry-looking wolf started to stalk them. For the entire night, the animal pushed the pair farther and farther away from the highway and the search parties scouring the bush for them.
Barnaby's story, and the dangerous plan she hatched to get a mother bear to attack the wolf, has drawn attention all over the world.
"My cuts and bruises are healing OK," she said from her home in Hay River on Friday, one week after her ordeal. "Mentally it's — I'm still feeling like it's still unreal or surreal."
Barnaby sounds weary, and confirms she's still feeling tired, but mostly overwhelmed. Media from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe have been hounding her to tell her tale. She's even gotten offers for movie deals.
"It's just really mind-boggling that the movie industry would be interested in my life," she chuckles.
"I haven't talked to any of them. I haven't got a clue how to deal with that."
If this isn’t announced as a movie within 24 hours, I’ll be amazed. Surely the rights have been grabbed already? <a href="https://t.co/NWZIW3MEaZ">https://t.co/NWZIW3MEaZ</a>—@jamesmoran
But … do wolves really prey on humans?
Many commenters on CBCNews.ca questioned the plausibility of Barnaby's story — some suggested she was picking mushrooms of the magic kind, while others asserted that a wolf would never prey on a human.
But Roger Catling, who has been hunting wolves and bears in the territory for more than 40 years, told CBC that what happened to Barnaby is believable.
"I have had personal run-ins with both single wolves and a pack where they showed aggression towards humans," he says.
"This could have been an old, starving wolf who had lost its fear of humans."
Barnaby is no stranger to the bush, and she admits her wolf encounter was out of the ordinary.
"It most definitely was unusual. It's crazy," she says. "They usually don't go after people. So he may have just been after my dog. I don't know."
As for the naysayers, she says she can't help the way people see things.
"I have no control over that."
A week after her ordeal, Barnaby is still feeling the physical effects. She's still sore from a fall, but says she can "finally wear shoes" now that the swelling and blisters on her feet have subsided. And the "thousands" of mosquito bites she suffered are, mercifully, not too itchy.
The attention is taking some getting used to, though.
"I haven't been going into town much, it's hard to handle all the questions and the curiosity," she says.
"Everybody's blown away by the experience, of course."
Barnaby says she's getting tons of love and support, and she feels much gratitude to the many people who searched for her — from fellow mushroom pickers to the RCMP.
And whatever happened to those expensive morels she picked?
"I had about a quarter of a pail of mushrooms that I brought home, and ate," she laughs.