ODFW ODFW
ODFW Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Wolf  Human Interactions

What Everyone Needs to Know to Keep Wolves Wild

Wolves generally avoid human interactions, unless they have become habituated to people. Please do your part to keep wolves the way they belong—wild.

  • Keep your distance from wolves. Remain at least 100 yards away when watching or photographing them. Wolves are wary of people; but they can lose their fear of humans when they become accustomed to them.
  • Don’t feed wolves. You do not want wolves to associate people with food.
  • Tell the land manager or ODFW if you see wolves near developed areas (such as campsites) or approaching people.
  • Don’t feed other wildlife. Deer and small mammals can attract wolves, cougars and bears.
  • Feed pets indoors. Never leave food outside.
  • When camping, secure all food from wildlife and sleep away from cooking areas. Clean up your campsite before you leave it.
  • Keep dogs leashed when outdoors. Wolves are territorial and may think your dog is a threat.
  • Steer clear of pups and any young wildlife—mother is likely nearby. Leave the area if you see pups or hear wolves howling at you.
  • If you hunt with dogs, avoid known areas of wolf activity. Check for wolf tracks and sign before letting dogs loose.
  • Using an air horn is a great way to scare wolves away without hurting them.  It is dangerous for wolves when they have lost their fear of people.

Encountering a Wolf

In the unlikely event that you encounter a wolf in the woods, here is what to do:

  • Stay calm. Make sure the wolf knows you are there.  Talk in a loud firm voice or make loud noises and the wolf will likely run away.
  • If the wolf approaches or acts aggressively, wave your arms, yell and make yourself look larger. Use bear spray or air horns and throw any available objects. Pick up small children without bending down. If you can, group up with other people. Back away slowly to leave the area while facing the animal.
  • In the incredibly rare event that you are attacked by a wolf, fight back. Try to remain standing and use rocks, sticks, tools, camping gear and your hands to fend off the attack. Keep the animal away from your neck and head.

Report a
wolf sighting

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Finding a Wolf Carcass

In the event you find a wolf carcass, please take the following steps.

  • Do not move or disturb any evidence.
  • If possible, cover the carcass with a secured tarp to preserve it.

Call USFWS, ODFW or Oregon State Police immediately. Timely investigation is necessary to confirm the cause of death.

What Hunters Need to Know

Hunters should report wolf sightings, sign or activity on ODFW’s online wolf reporting form.

Wolves are protected throughout Oregon. It is not legal to shoot one, except in defense of human life. Report any incident with a wolf to the police or ODFW. 

Conflicts between wolves and people are more likely to occur when wolves are habituated to people, infected with rabies, or when domestic dogs are present.

Wolves and hunting dogs: Reducing conflict

Wolves are by nature extremely territorial and guard their territory from other canids, including coyotes and domestic dogs. Hunters who use dogs should take steps to limit potential conflicts between their dog(s) and a wild wolf.

Keep dogs within view.

  • Place a bell or a beeping collar on wider ranging dogs.
  • Talk loudly to the dog or other hunters or use whistles.
  • Control the dog so that it stays close to you and wolves associate it with a human.
  • Place the dog on a leash if wolves or fresh sign are seen.
  • Remember, it is NOT legal to shoot at or attempt to injure or kill a wolf even if it is attacking your dog.

Test your skills Wolf Identification Quiz

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Wolves vs. Coyotes

Wolves and coyotes can look similar, especially wolf pups in the mid-summer and fall. Use this graphic to distinguish between wolves and coyotes.