Man hits timber wolf while driving to work west of Wolf Lake Friday
On the morning of Friday, March 1, Nick Metteer was cruising to work along Highway 54, a few miles west of Wolf Lake, when he hit a timber wolf that darted out in front of his vehicle.
"He was running hard. I seen it for just a split second," said Metteer.
In fact, Metteer didn't even realize what he hit was a wolf until he saw it trying to crawl off the road in his rearview mirror. At that point, he turned around and called his boss, knowing he was going to be late for work.
Metteer called the Becker County Sheriff's Department, which dispatched an officer, along with a Department of Natural Resources officer.
Metteer says the animal died very shortly after the impact, most likely from pretty severe internal injuries but, since seeing a timberwolf up close is so rare, the officers encouraged him to take a photo with the massive animal.
"They're big animals," said Metteer, adding that he couldn't guess how much it weighed, but he says it was about as tall as him. When he held it up, its paws touched the ground.
Not only was hitting the wolf rare in itself, but it just so happened to occur on Metteer's birthday. Well, technically. Metteer was born on Leap Day, Feb. 29, and 2019 isn't a Leap Year, so he planned to celebrate on March 1.
"It was pretty surreal. I was shaking my head. What are the odds?" said Metteer.
Metteer says he's seen wolves here and there but never up close like that. He says they go after his cattle from time to time, particularly around this time of year when they're out hunting for food after a long winter.
"They're around, you just don't see them," said Metteer.
Metteer says some people criticized him for taking a photo with the animal and posting it to social media, but he says his sister, Amanda Metteer, posted it to her Facebook page simply because it was such an oddity.
Most people have been pretty impressed with the photo, though, also awed by the massive animal.
Metteer says he drives that route every day to and from work. It's pretty wooded and curvey, he says, and he sees a lot of wildlife along the way, so he does his best to take it easy, particularly around this time of year with all the snowpack on the roads. He's hit deer before, so he's cautious. He says he was only going about 45 miles per hour when he hit the wolf.
Luckily Metteer wasn't injured in the collision. The worst of the damage was a cracked bumper on the front end of his vehicle.