Bicyclist chased by wolf on highway east of Thunder Bay
Man says wolf seemed to be trying to 'wear him out' like he was prey
A man who was bicycling east of Thunder Bay on Hwy. 17, in mid- July, is sharing his story of an unsettling encounter with a wolf.
Hilary Petrus was pedaling the remote stretch of highway, about 140 km. east of Thunder Bay, on an afternoon ride from his cottage on Lake Superior.
When he was on the down side of a two-kilometre long hill, at a speed of about 40 km/h, he noticed something coming out on the shoulder of the road and right towards him, he said.
"I looked over, and there was a big timber wolf coming right at my bike," said Petrus.
A the speed he was going - nearly 40 km/h - it passed within a metre or two of his rear tire.
"My first reaction was 'that was pretty cool', " said Petrus, but he said something didn't feel right.
"I started to think that maybe that wolf wasn't running by me but coming at me."
Petrus says he wrote the incident off and convinced himself that he and the wolf had been "two ships in the night" that had come close to one another.
On his return trip up the long hill, he was going noticeably slower, only about five to eight km/h.
As he approached the spot on the highway where he had the initial encounter, Petrus said he saw the wolf crouching behind a guard rail "like a cat" waiting for him.
That's when Petrus thought he might be in trouble.
"My eyes are wide open and i'm going 'what is going on here?'," he said
"It bolts across the highway right at me," said Petrus. "And just before it gets to me it peels off and goes behind me once again."
"Needless to say I'm now pedaling as hard as I can going up this hill but I'm still going very slow," he said. "And I look behind and here is the wolf following me."
Petrus said the wolf fell in line behind him about six metres away and wasn't backing off, following him for 500 metres up the hill.
Finally, a half ton truck approached from the rear and pulled up, said Petrus.
The driver rolled down the window and asked Petrus if he realized what was following him.
Petrus said he replied breathlessly, "Yah, but I think I'm gaining on it."
With the truck there, Petrus said the wolf got nervous and finally headed off into the woods.
Petrus says the wolf was full grown and looked healthy, if a little skinny, but there was no sign of mange or disease.
"I've worked in the bush for years,and I've seen many wolves," said Petrus. "But this encounter was unique. (the wolf) challenged me a couple of times to see what I would do. It wanted to see if I was going to run or if I was going to fight it."
Petrus said he believes the wolf decided he was "fair game" and was going to wear him down.
He worries what might have occurred had the wolf been offered a different scenario.
"Had I been a child or someone's pet, the outcome could have been very different," Petrus said.