June 24, 2013

A wolf chased down Tim Bartlett's motorcycle on Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park. Photograph by: Courtesy of Tim Bartlett

Last Saturday, Banff mechanic Tim Bartlett was christening a new motorcycle through the Rocky Mountains when he had a rare wildlife encounter that was equal parts terrifying and enchanting. On a stretch of British Columbia’s Highway 93, a massive grey wolf emerged from the trees, lunged at his speeding ride and chased after him at full speed as he pulled away.

The story would have become little more than another legend clanging around the roadhouses of Western Canada if Mr. Bartlett had not whipped a camera out of his top pocket to record the event for posterity; capturing a series of rare snapshots that have since been beamed around the world. The National Post’s Tristin Hopper reached him by phone.

How did this happen?

VIDEO

I was about 320 [kilometers] into a 400 k trip … and was doing about 90km/h in the right hand lane going north and [the wolf] came from the left hand side of the road. It darted out, crossed the other lane and I had to swerve and accelerate to get around it. I went forward about 100 meters and when I turned around it was just standing in the middle of the lane watching me.

How close did it get to you?

It was coming at me. It probably got to within a couple meters, easy, maybe a meter. If I’d have slowed down I would have definitely hit it, so I just opened it up, got a bit of power and got around it. I’ve had dogs run out at me on bikes before and you sort of get a feel for the distance the speed you’re going, but it was pretty tight.

But after you’d gotten some distance between you, that’s when you pulled around for a closer look?

I stopped the bike, pulled my gloves off, took my camera out, did a u-turn and came back, and that’s when I managed to get the pictures. When [the wolf] heard me coming, it jumped back over a [roadside] barrier and it started running. I sped up a little bit, it got in nice and close and I was driving with my right hand and clicking pictures with my left. When I first came back around, it came in really close; probably a bit too close. It would have been a real bad time to run out of gas. Even over the motor, I could hear it. I could hear its feet on the road.
Source


Do you think this wolf was playing with you, or were you being hunted?

To me, it was more exciting than scary, I’ll put it to you that way. In my gut, I didn’t feel threatened at all. I would have felt threatened if I was walking or on a bicycle, but I knew I could outrun it. It also didn’t have a real aggressive feel. I don’t think it was after me, it was probably after the bike. That’s just the way I felt; I could have been wrong, I’m no wolf expert.

How fast was it going?

I didn’t look at the speedo, but I’d say somewhere between 30 to 40 km/h.

And the wolf’s size?

It was bigger than the biggest dog I’ve ever seen. Long legs and a big head, a massive head; it was almost out of proportion. It was big enough.



The chase kept up for about a kilometer. How did it end?

As you can see in one of the last photos, a few cars had started coming and going so I thought, I better not be here, so I accelerated away. I didn’t want it jumping out into the path of an oncoming car. The last I saw it was running into the trees.

This is highly-unusual behaviour, of course. The vast majority of wolves would never show themselves to a human much less chase after them at full speed. Have you been approached by any wolf experts?

That was actually one of the first calls I made. One of my very good friends works for Parks Canada … and he put me on to the guy I should talk to and he was under the same impression as me: This is not really normal behaviour.

Banff, of course, swells with thousands of European and Asian tourists each summer who would kill for this type of mystical “close encounter” with Canadian wildlife. Were you hit with any kind of “nature high” after the experience?

I’ve still got it. I’m having a hard time getting down to the ground, actually, and it was almost a week ago. You just feel so privileged. I mean, this is why I live in Banff. This happens and you just think “this is something totally off the charts.” It’s way more than I’d even hope to imagine. Just seeing a wolf is one thing, to have it run beside you and chase you is another thing altogether.


Responses to "Banff motorcyclist pursued by ‘massive’ grey wolf along B.C. highway, takes photos (VIDEO)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    beautyfull pictures i love wolves

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wooowwww Great experience.....and I really love your attitude

    Michael ( Arawn Photography Wildlife and Nature )

  3. Anonymous says:

    glad you were in tune with the experience

  4. Lori says:

    Wow so Cute . He looks like he was having a good time. He almost appears to have a smile on his face, lol Like any other puppie.

  5. That is so Awesome! He was probably playing, but yes there is a message there. I own a wolf hybrid and they don't normally do things like that.

  6. Beautiful Thank you for sharing

  7. Anonymous says:

    Have to agree with Lori, above.. He does look like He is smiling.. or she? A little amusement for Him/Her for the day!! Luv It! I ride too.. but mmmm... not sure I could have avoided her antics!! but sure would have tried! I know I could have no way taken pictures!! :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think in two pictures the same wolf pic was used.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I know of people that have them for Pets. It may have thought that it was his Owner so he chased him....That's what I see...

  10. Anonymous says:

    I would love to know what the true message is!!Did you look it up in Indian beliefs??I love wolves!!!You really should talk to a Native American about this encounter..I know I would.

  11. Anonymous says:

    ~May be the wolf was confused with all the fires going on,he wanted his pack,he might of been lost,is there not fires everywhere there?Poor little soul....

  12. Very uncommon..Hope the Beautiful Guy/Gal is not sick!!!!!!!!!!!Hopefully safe now back in the timber............

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wow that's an amazing experience and what an awesome story.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Apparently the wolf has something around his neck, a collar?

  15. Awesome beautiful experience! Never forget this. A once in a lifetime experience for sure. There doesn't seem to be a collar as it is the wolf's markings. Wow. Def got my heart racing.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hate to burst your bubble but, wolves don't smile. They are wolves. Wild animals. I am Native American, so in your eyes, I know everything about Wolves and must be a 'wolf whisperer'. With that being said, I feel qualified enough to suggest that the "Native American" meaning/reading" of this experience basically boils down to this.... MOVE YOUR ASS !!! YOU"RE BEING HUNTED!!!....I hope I have helped shed a bit of wisdom here. Bless that poor wolf who was apparently hungry and confused.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Oh man I would just be thrilled!!!!! It is always amazing when wildlife decides to check you out closer then they normally would!!!!

    The pictures are great, feel honored by the spirit of the wolf!!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    this is amazing

  19. Anonymous says:

    Cool!

  20. Anonymous says:

    I had a white wolf, or should I say He had me!. Iam wondering if the wolf knows someone with a motorbike, and though maybe that befriended
    the wolf. Anyway that is just crazy cool.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I had a white wolf, or should I say He had me!. Iam wondering if the wolf knows someone with a motorbike, and though maybe that befriended
    the wolf. Anyway that is just crazy cool.

  22. Anonymous says:

    My guess is someone raised this wolf or wolf hybred, and just dumped it...poor animal was probably trying to get "home"

  23. Anonymous says:

    HOW CAN YOU SAY WOLVES DON'T SMILE? YOU'RE NOT A WOLF! YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT GOES ON IN A WOLFS HEAD! HE'S SMILING IN THE PICTURE SO WOLVES DO SMILE! HE WAS PROBABLY JUST HAVING A GAME OR LAUGHING AT YOU THINKING HA HA I'M GONNA GET YOU COMING ROUND HERE MAKING ALL THAT NOISE WHILE I'M TRYING TO SLEEP! WHATEVER WAS HAPPENING BEAUTIFUL PICTURES OF A BEAUTIFUL CREATURE!

  24. Jerry says:

    It could be the owner that dumped this guy had a bike.I think he was trying to go home

  25. Anonymous says:

    That wolf was happy.Frolicking.I would know.Cherish that .Very nice experience.I raised one.That wolf was wanting to play

  26. Anonymous says:

    Dumb ass comments

  27. Anonymous says:

    It could very well be, that at one time the wolf may have been a pet and the previous person just let it go in the woods. The wolf may have thought that the motor cycle was is previous owner. Wolves have a keen memory, so there is no telling, if he thought the bike was prey or a long lost friend. Any one that has dealt with these beautiful animals will tell you that they have intelligence that you couldn't even fathom.

  28. Anonymous says:

    We had one for years everone in town loved the big guy his name was lucky he died last year at 14 years old no better friend or pet have we ever had he would protect us he went just about any were with us people asked are you scared maybe he hurt someone no we were not unless you tried hurt us RIP MY DEAR FRIEND THEY ARE ONE OF GODS PETS TO BE PROTECTED

  29. fox on the rox says:

    great expience dude. he just wanted to play with yur bike. when something loud goes down a road these massive beasts wanna play with the loudest vehicle out there, there no threat.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Did anyone wonder if the wolf was rabid??

  31. Anonymous says:

    Me too! :-)
    God, that is such a beautiful wolf! Big, gorgeous, and majestic. <3

  32. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what a encounter. Maybe it was the motorcycle, or maybe he was some ones pet at one time and thought you were him.

  33. lola bing says:

    Maybe it was the motorcycle, or maybe he was some ones pet at one time and thought you were him..... do you know what happen to this wolf did he go back in to the woods ???My guess is someone raised this wolf and just dumped it...poor animal was probably trying to get "home" ::((

  34. Julz of Indiana says:

    I believe this wolf used to be someone's pet and turned back into the wild ! Being a former wolf pack owner myself seem to make more sense that it just wanted to go home with you missing his human love and care

  35. Anonymous says:

    I was owned by a wolf hybrid years ago...and I agree it IS unusual for them to chase a vehicle of any sort. -Definitely was not hunting you....was probably playing, and trying to see if it could keep up...OR that animal was raised by someone with a bike, and then was released into the wild...if your bike had a very similar sound to it...might think u were it's previous owner. - Not to worry, I doubt if you were targeted as lunch...LOL...but way cool experience, regardless, and GREAT PICS!

  36. Anonymous says:

    I guess its about the same as a dog chasing a car. Its loud and looks exciting to why not chase it? lol

  37. Anonymous says:

    Agree with Jules, I would venture to say it's previous owner had a motorcycle. lucky you to be chosen or MISTAKEN as the owner.- Either way, I am pretty sure you were NOT in harms way LOLOL...my first sight of a live wolf/ high hybrid....went to go feed her and a german shepherd while the owner was away on vacation. I was sitting in the car, and when she saw me began circling the car....I got out , and was so absorbed/ fascinated by this animals intelligence....and crouched down on the ground....she charged at me, bowled me over, and licked my face! - Was total bond after that, and her owner gave her to me.....she "chose" her owner....nuff said...she died at around age 16-17 years, in my arms..she was.my faithful friend, teacher, and my guardian.-- You were blessed to have had this experience..:)

  38. Anonymous says:

    Tim shame on your for dropping off your wolf dog!

  39. My 3/4 wolf yearns to race with bikes, joggers and big-ass trucks. He can go about 35 mph and weighs 125 pounds. At the dog park, he loves everybody, big and small, but loves most of all to stretch out and run and tussle and roll with another biggish K9. He plays wolfy tricks the whole time, like nipping the competition just above the tail--or where the tail should be. That's part of the fun--for him. This wolf has a joyous expression on his face--he's having fun, too.

  40. Dion says:

    Wolf is Teacher in Native American Medicine. What did this encounter teach you?... I wonder.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I don't buy the thought of being "owned or dumped" I do however believe that he was having a grand time and some dogs do smile and some are just made to look like they are smiling. He was having fun and his face was relaxed therefore the muscles on a canine do go up rather than in the controlled tight lipped mouth they have when they are serious or pissed off. When a canine is stressed his mouth is usually closed or close to closed, you are truly blessed to have this experience instead of Dances with wolves you could say you are "Riding with wolves" Great thinking to get the camera and fantastic mind set for you to be able to enjoy the ride and not feel afraid.
    My name is Kathy and I respect your thoughts and think you hit it on the head.

  42. Rabid creatures tend to isolation

  43. Anonymous says:

    May the guardian of my wolves watch over and protect those who are gods creatures.

  44. Rabid creatures tend to isolate.I learn and saw simpt

  45. Anonymous says:

    It looks like a sledge dog to me :D

  46. Anonymous says:

    Enchanting!!! God's creatures never cease to amaze us, and the wolf is one of the most treasured creatures I can think of...sense of family, loyalty...That high u feel won't go away for quite a while, and I'm willing to bet, whenever u look back at those pics, it'll hit u all over again

  47. Anonymous says:

    I have been part of a wolf pack .. can't say I raised them as they accepted me to the pack. I as a woman wasn't the hierarchy but was accepted by the hierarchy when he was young.
    Yes, wolves love to frolic and play. Yes, wolves love the chase. Yes, they do seem to smile when having a great time. Yes, this wolf looks as though he is having the time of his life! He probably stopped and went back into the trees as it was near the edge of his Territory.
    Male wolves will be on their own when trying to make their own pack. This is clearly a Male, young, about 4 or 5 years. The comment about something around his neck looking like a collar, that is one of his markings, brown fir. I love that you were able to be part of his play. Not feeling threatened shows it was play, if you were prey you would have felt the panic and threat.

  48. While the story may or may not be true, as in, how do you take pictures of a wolf chasing behind you, when you are on a motorcycle, or any other way, unless you are in the back of a moving vehicle. Thanks for giving more bs fodder to the asswipes out there who will misconstrue this story, so that more "big, bad, wolves" are slaughtered, and to the uninformed person above me; many "wolf packs" are run by Alpha female wolves. Thanks for adding to the problem. In closing... the wolf is no bigger than a normal wolf, and I am certain that is probably a hybrid, that was "chasing" it's own "master", and I use that last term loosely; now every BUBBA from BFE and beyond, will be hunting down 'Big Wolf'. -Debbie Dixon; dbbdxn@gmail.com.

    This is irresponsible hog wash from every angle.

  49. All dogs love chasing things. We had a sheepdog cross that used to chase motorbikes. She had no intention of eating the bike or the rider.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Make no mistake about it. In the wild , us humans are food . This wolf must of been hungry to go chasing out on the road after this guy.
    You are a lucky man sir !!!!!

  51. Gypsisher says:

    I had a wolf hybrid and he went after a motorcycle once (thank god it wass a small bike a 90 or 125 cc. Anyhow since his method of attack was to break front legs on his opponent then slash their throat he bit the front tire, Lobo flew one way the bike the other and the rider a third, I rushed to him to see he was all right and Lobo came up looking very chagrined and let the rider pet his head then we went and found the bike was not damaged, Had it been a big motorcycle he could have been killed. Wolves love to run, you run they chase, a wolf won't chase a car like a dog but a bike??? Maybe this fella had some big dog bred in him and that's why his head looked out of proportion.

  52. The more obvious danger is the fact that he is running down the middle of a road with cars going in both directions. I would have stopped and chased him back into the woods. Or at the very least turned off the highway to a side road. Stupid humans.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Wolves and domesticated dogs have exceptional hearing. Some motorcycle motors have a distinct sound that bothers the hearing of the canines (yes wolves are members of the canine species). This is why they chase after bikes, the noise bothers them. This wolf may have been protecting his den, especially if his mate recently had a litter of cubs.

  54. Beautiful.glad you caught it on pic and it wasn't hurt!

  55. Anonymous says:

    Some dogs, whether they are wild or domesticated, like to chase motor vehicles. Who knows....maybe this was a domesticated dog left behind. Who really knows?

  56. Anonymous says:

    I have a malamute cross that would do this. If it moves fast or flies - game on. And wolves love to play,

  57. Anonymous says:

    Completely and utterly awesome. So amazing. The wolf really looks like he (she) is enjoying every moment! Look at me, take my picture some more!!! LOL I absolutely love this, I'm so jealous!!! I would have loved to have been on the back that bike with you!! So COOL !!

  58. Anonymous says:

    When someone encounters a wolf at such close range like my husband had encountered this year on our farm property standing 50 feet away and watching my husband trim trees for atleast 3 minutes and then the wolf just walked away. I contacted a Native elder to ask him what does that mean ! and the native elder said that there's a message to follow and and my husband should find out what the message is or this message would be in my husbands presence that he would have to see.

  59. Anonymous says:

    search for the meaning behind the act,its telling u something ,one must be told.

  60. Anonymous says:

    That wolf is Beautiful! You got some great Pictures!!!

  61. Anonymous says:

    THAT IS AWESOME, IM A BIG WOLF FANATIC....

  62. To anonymous. You maybe native american but you are an idoit. Wolves smile.dDogs smile. I am also native american.I have a wolf hybrid. When he gets out to run he has this silly look on his face.I went to a shamen in Oklahoma and the wolf is my spirit guide.It is unusal for wolves to do that. They are very shy animals. Just count it as a great honor to have happened to you.

  63. Anonymous says:

    awesome experience. I had a slightly similar experience with a mountain lion once. I live in a wooded area very near an urban environment. No one thought a mountain lion would come down into the 'city'. It crossed my cars path and I was exhilarated and honored. Unfortunately the lion ventured too far into people territory and was killed. Very very sad. My hope is that we can let go of so much fear about animals and learn to live with them. thanks for sharing.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Must not have seen very many big dogs. Doesn't look all that big to me. It's just playing though, like a city dog...

  65. Anonymous says:

    He was smiling while thinking: "Ummmm Lunch!"

  66. Anonymous says:

    I hope it wasn't rabid that would be a shame

  67. Anonymous says:

    cool

  68. Anonymous says:

    the anonymous idiot who says he is American Indian and he is all knowing and to move your ass. No your not I don't think your native at all. you sound like some ignorant ass wipe with dumbass comments and don't know shit what your talking about just like the dumbass who says all animals chase and eat humans and he was probably hungry. You both sound like dumbass evil hunters and I wish some animal would eat you for lunch Unfortunately it wont be a wolf because that's no what they do.

  69. Anonymous says:

    I think the owner had a motorcycle and the Wolf remembers this.. Some people age and they die, That may have happened to the owner and the Wolf misses his Master... Simply done. He doesn't have rabies he isn't barking and growling or foaming at the mouth, He simply is lost.

  70. Anonymous says:

    This story could've been" Man dies after trying to take photos of a wolf chasing him on a bike at high-speed." Smart. Nice. Faith in humanity = Gone...

  71. Leonardo Lopez says:

    You all should read Maggie Steifvater's Werewolf Series. It is Young Adult literature. Takes place in Minnesota and involves humans becoming wolves, after they have been bitten by similarly infected/affected wolves, when the temperature drops below a certain level. I discovered the series when I took one of the books away from a female student who was reading it during my Spanish II class. Gives a good view of wolves. I like the pictures. I've never seen a wolf in the flesh. Lots of coyotes, since I grew up in southern arizona.

  72. Anonymous says:

    It looks like a wolf to me, but I am not an expert..I do have huskie/malamutes dogs that look simauilar to this 'WOLF" I do remember one time driving my semi down the road in Montana on I-90, at night and I thought it was a dog running cross the road, but it was much bigger than a dog but I was driving slower than normal as it was a bit icy...and I had eye contact with the wolf/ I slowed even more so I knew it wouldn't get hurt by me as she /he was able to get back in the woods...I will never ever forget it..it was like it understood me and knew I would never hurt her/him.......

  73. Ceno Dave Loyie says:

    Blow it out of your ass "Wolf Whisperer"!
    What do uou know about anything?
    I have a Hybrid. I live in a Town that is Surrounded by Bush. I can hear Wolves Howling many nights of the year. I had a Wolf walk out of the Bush while I was eating Lunch in my truck at work and take a Shit 20 feet away from me and then look over at me then walk back into the Bush.
    Analyze that TONTO!
    PS I'm a Treaty Indian.

  74. Anonymous says:

    Two summers ago a black wolf just stood on the Kananaskis Hiway. It finally walked towards us and then right on by the truck. In the mirror I saw it cross the hiway to a camp ground down closer to the river. It never took it's eyes off where it wanted to go. HUGE thing, still loosing fur but I think it had pups not too long before. I was thrilled. Camera was in the back and I would have had to get out of the SUV to get it. No way. Why tempt fate? So I enjoyed the view and carried on. Loved it.

  75. -Seb- says:

    This is so awesome! You sir won the internets of the day.

  76. Sun-Dance says:

    The last two pix show the same vehicle and plate yet the wolf is on opposite sides. If this story is accurate I have to wonder if the wolf was rabid. Just a thought.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Been to Banff. Beautiful energy there. Wolf was probably "playing" with the bike.

  78. Anonymous says:

    What a fascinating encounter for you. Thank you for sharing the experience and the photos. You mentioned you were trying out a new bike I believe ... may I suggest you have a screen or other art of this wolf put on the tank? :-)

  79. Anonymous says:

    I had two wolf dogs, one of which used to chase down the riding lawn mower and bite the tires..am guessing this was a similar thing.....I hope people that are for hunting wolves don't take this as a reason to.

  80. Anonymous says:

    Do you think this may be a case of a domesticated wolf that someone let loose and it was chasing something (the bike) that had been familiar to it at one time? I have to agree this is very unusual so I am thinking outside the box on this one.

  81. Anonymous says:

    You need to read about the wolf in animal speak .it probably was giving you a message .I would say ')

  82. Anonymous says:

    if it had rabies it would be foaming from the mouth and it would be in a attacking run and also where it got bit would be swollen big and it would have Reyes to attacked the other truck mainly the tires. But if you were standing outside your truck or bike or walking 100%now It would have attacked. But this one wolf was neither angry or stressed it does seem like it saw its master on the bike.

  83. Anonymous says:

    Only if it was a pet or you stole its pup?

  84. carrie says:

    This happened to my ex partner and I half way between Terrace BC and Prince Rupert a few years ago while riding our Harley. The wolf was a large male and he was running with us along side us. We saw him on side of road, stopped and wr had a good lookcat him he was curious as wolves are and crossed in front of us and stood beside us on shoulder. We started the bike up and started out slow and he kept up with us even as we sped up for almost a km when wr finslly lost him. Amazing experience...amazing animal.

  85. Anonymous says:

    It looks playful , can't see any anger in the wolf at all :D

  86. Anonymous says:

    im with the people that think the wolf must have belonged to a person on a bike and you reminded it of that person and the poor baby thought it was going home

  87. Anonymous says:

    The Wolf has as much right to be on this earth as we do

  88. Anonymous says:

    I can't get the video to play, but I was able to find it elsewhere:
    http://video.ca.msn.com/watch/video/wolf-sightings-on-b-c-highway/16ag4p7vw?from=gallery_en-ca&cpkey=cbcc2013-1806-0004-0053-239212485200%257c%257c%257c%257c

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