The town of Irving chairman was killed Monday when his motorcycle apparently struck a wolf in rural Jackson County.

A passerby found Dale N. Hart, 51, in a ditch near his motorcycle shortly after 1 p.m. on County Hwy. C in the town of Albion, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

Vehicle strikes are a common form of mortality for wolves, which will often follow roads because of the easy access to food, but for a wolf to cause a human fatality is unusual, said Adrian Wydeven, director of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wolf management program.

There are about 40 to 45 wolves known to roam in the area of Jackson County.

The wolf was a yearling male, likely in search of a new pack, Wydeven said.

Evidence showed Hart was descending a hill when he tried to stop quickly. His bike hit the wolf and went into a skid, throwing him, according to the sheriff's department.

Hart, who was not wearing a helmet, was airlifted to Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, according to the sheriff's department.

A 1977 graduate of Black River Falls High School, Hart was a dairy farmer.

Hart grew up in the town of Irving and is being remembered as a man who wanted to assist the town and its residents. He served as a town supervisor from 2007-11 and was elected chairman this spring.

"He just always was interested in the township and wanted to do for it what he could," said Irving Clerk Bobbe Gilbert, who also is a Hart family friend.

Cassandra Colson of the Jackson County Chronicle contributed to this report.

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