By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A St. Cloud couple had a rare up-close encounter with a wolf.

It happened Sunday morning when Tyler Netter and his wife were driving through the town of Rice, near Highway 10.

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The wolf appeared to be trying to find its way into the woods.

“I initially knew it wasn’t a coyote. Way too big. Not sure if it was a different type of dog, a huskie or a shepherd of some sort,” Netter said. “It was just shocking. Out in the middle of the day. One of the most elusive animals out there.”

Netter and his wife got video and took pictures of the gray wolf. It came within just a few feet of their car at times.

“I’ve never heard or seen them down in that area,” Netter said.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says a lone wolf could be looking to return to its pack, or it could be looking to establish a new pack.

(credit: Tyler Netter)

(credit: Tyler Netter)

It is possible the wolf the Netters saw came from a pack that the DNR has identified near Camp Ripley.

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Netter says he kept his car between the wolf and Highway 10 so the animal would not get hit.

“He’s huge, he’s gorgeous,” Netter said.

The animal eventually found its way around a fence and ran into the woods, and Netter’s video found its way onto the Minnesota Hunting Club’s Facebook page — where it has thousands of views.

Days later, the sighting is still the talk of the town. Jake Kirsling and his boss took pictures of the wolf’s footprints outside their workplace.

“I’m an avid hunter and I haven’t seen wolf prints that big,” Kirsling said.

The DNR says seeing wolves anywhere in the state is rare, but they have been known to occasionally venture into central Minnesota, and even the southern part of the state.

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Minnesota’s wolf population has grown in recent years. It was estimated last year that there are about 2,300 wolves in the state. They are still listed as a threatened species.

John Lauritsen