A lone wolf has been following snowmobilers in Voyageurs National Park, so park officials are rerouting some trails until they figure out what the wolf is up to.
"We are taking precautions for the protection of the visitors and the wolf," Superintendent Mike Ward said in a news release.
Recently the wolf, who doesn't seem to be traveling with a pack, followed at least three snowmobilers in the Ash River area of the park located along the U.S. and Canadian border, the release notes.
The incidents happened within a mile of one another over a 10-day period, the Star Tribune says.
Ward told the Star Tribune the wolf made one snowmobiler nervous, while another group compared it to a playful dog.
Wolf attacks rare
The wolf hasn't attacked anyone and officials aren't describing it as aggressive or dangerous, the Pioneer Press reports, but they do say this type of behavior is rare for a wolf.
“There’s never been a documented case of a healthy wild wolf killing or seriously injuring a person in North America," David Mech, a renowned wolf expert, wrote in an article on the International Wolf Center's website.
In 2013, a teenager was attacked by a wolf in north central Minnesota, the incident was called the state's first confirmed wolf attack on a human. Officials determined the wolf had severe deformities and brain damage.
Mech, who calls the behavior of the Voyageurs National Park wolf a mystery, says it's unlikely this wolf is rabid, noting there are no documented cases of wolves with rabies in Minnesota, and the disease would likely have killed the animal between the first and last time it was spotted, reports note.
He thinks it could be a young wolf that has left its pack.
"My guess is it's practicing, practicing its hunting behavior, which is running fast after fast prey," Mech told the Pioneer Press, noting the wolf likely isn't seeing the snowmobilers as prey.
Park officials and researchers are trying to learn more about the wolf's behavior, but there are no plans to kill it. They hope removing human interaction by rerouting the snowmobile trails will solve the problem, reports say.
Temporary trail closures
Park officials have temporarily rerouted portions of the Green Trail and Yellow Trail in the area the wolf was spotted.
The Green Trail (Voyageur Trail) is closed from Moose River Grade to Namakan Lake.
A short section of the Yellow Trail (Kettle Falls Trail) is closed from the Green Trail and Yellow Trail connection in Moose Bay to the Orange Trail (Rudder Bay Trail) and the Yellow Trail connection.
Click here for rerouting information.