By Nick Minock
Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) — Losing a pet to a wild animal is a fear many can relate to in Northern Minnesota.
For one Duluth family, it almost happened; wildlife experts say wolf attacks within the city limits are very rare.
Maureen Zupancich was getting ready for work at her Piedmont Heights home when she heard a startling sound come from her front yard.
“I heard him yelp. I looked out the window and saw a large animal standing over him,” Zupancich said.
Maureen called her husband, who ran and screamed at the animal, chasing it as it ran down their driveway. The wild animal ran into the woods.
“So he tried here, but he really got him down below,” Zupancich said.
Dropping Max who sustained injuries around his neck. At first they thought it was a neighborhood dog.
After talking with police, however, they are convinced it was something bigger.
“I think it was a wolf,” Zupancich said.
The Minnesota DNR says wolf attacks on dogs are rare, but they do occur, even in urban areas such as Duluth.
“Probably in the last three years we have had an average of about ten dogs killed by wolves, killed or attacked by wolves each year,” Stark said.
The DNR says, however it is much more common for coyotes to go after small pets.
“Coyotes tend to be a little more adaptable, they kind of fit the more heavily populated areas and are probably more common that what a wolf would be,” Stark said.
Due to a ruling in December 2014, Minnesotans are unable to kill wolves to protect their pets or live stock. The only allowance is to protect human life.
“We just had a very successful wolf recovery in Minnesota. The population is still doing well and continues to do well. Unfortunately this legal issue is something that needs to be resolved before the state can resume management of wolves,” Stark said.
For Maureen and her husband, the idea of losing Max is triggering their family to get the word out.
“I just want people to be aware of it, if anything else that this is a potential,” Zupancich said.