It’s the overweight, sedentary blogger out in the country in northern Washington, a couple of hundred yards from his car, who sees “four animals silently streaking along in my general direction. My first thought, in the fading light, is that they are deer… but they aren’t running like deer. They also appear much bigger than coyotes, which are common in the area.”
If we were to go back a century, nobody would be silly enough to go wandering around in a wilderness setting inhabited by large predators (bear, mountain lions, wolves) and not carry a sidearm. Living in cities and their adjoining suburbs, where the possibility of being the object of predation is totally unthinkable, and where carrying guns is severely frowned upon, inculcates the mindset of the domesticated herbivore.
Wolf pursuing motorcyclist on Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park last Saturday.
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.
Jezebel joins the New York Times in mourning the untimely death, this Wyoming hunting season, of fashionista Wolf 832F, widely admired for her successful career as wildlife runway model, her spectacular fur coat, her $4000 tracking collar, and her world-wide fan club.
[T]he New York Times reports that 832F, the very photogenic alpha female of the park’s semi-famous Lamar Canyon, was shot and killed on Thursday beyond the park’s boundaries thanks to state-sanctioned wolf hunts in Wyoming.
The wolf had been fitted with a $4,000 GPS collar as part of the park’s wolf-tracking program. Based on data gathered from the collar, researchers knew that the pack rarely ventured outside the park boundaries, and when they did leave Yellowstone, it was only for very short periods of time. 832F was considered among scientists and photographers to be something akin to a “rock star” in the lupine world (a photo of 832F snapped by wildlife photog Jimmy Jones appears in the current issue of American Scientist), and her sudden death has further stoked a debate about the wisdom of state- and federally-sanctioned wolf hunts in the northern Rockies.
Jezebel aptly proposes commemorating her death by watching CJ on West Wing discuss a similar case (3:10 video). Apparently it was just not possible in time to arrange for Elton John to sing Goodbye, Yellowstone Rose!
When more than a dozen lambs and sheep were slaughtered on a Shelburne farm last fall, wildlife officials suspected either a wolf that had escaped from captivity or a rogue mutt on a hungry rampage.
But after the culprit animal was killed and examined, they found themselves with a bigger mystery: How did a wild eastern gray wolf (Canis lupus), an endangered species absent from the state for more than a century, find its way to western Massachusetts?
Thomas J. Healy, head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast regional office, said Tuesday recent DNA tests at the agency’s Oregon labs confirmed it is the first gray wolf found in New England since a 1993 case in upstate Maine.
The discovery of the 85-pound male wolf may help solidify experts’ theories that the endangered species has been migrating south from Canada and repopulating rural parts of New England.
This wolf, though, was found farther south than any other reported spottings, and nothing indicates it had escaped or been set free by someone keeping it as a pet, authorities said. ...
According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the wild gray wolf was considered extinct in Massachusetts by about 1840. One was recorded in Berkshire County in 1918, but was believed to have escaped from domestic captivity.
92-lb. (41.82 kg) animal shot October 1, 2006 in Troy, Vermont
Rutland Herald 10/10:
A 92-pound (41.82 kg) canine shot in Troy last October may be the first confirmed wolf to roam the Green Mountains in more than a century, Vermont officials said Tuesday.
A yearlong investigation into the genetic makeup of the large animal, initially mistaken for a coyote, found “a substantial amount of wolf ancestry,” according to John Austin of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.
“We’re trying to be cautious in how we interpret these results,” Austin said Tuesday. “What the information tells us is that the genetic composition, the size of animal … suggests it’s largely of wolf ancestry.”
The animal, shot by a farmer in a Vermont town along the Canadian border Oct. 1, 2006, could well have been a wolf. But scientists say it likely wasn’t wild. Genetic tests conducted at four laboratories, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s forensics laboratory in Ashland, Ore., traced the ancestry of the animal to two separate and geographically distinct populations of wolves. The animal, according to lab conclusions, was almost certainly bred in captivity.
Peggy Struhsacker, a wolf specialist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, examined the animal after it was shot last October and said Tuesday that laboratory testing supported her initial hunches.
“I looked at all the traits and characteristics of it and believed it was possibly a full wolf or a high-percentage animal because it had all physical characteristics,” Struhsacker said. “That being said, it had too many other characteristics that made me feel it wasn’t a wild wolf.”
The animal’s shoddy coat, uniform nail wear and well-fed gut, she said, all indicated the canine was a domestic pet.
The animal’s origins have significant implications for the state. If the animal was indeed a wild wolf migrating from an existing pack in southern Quebec, it would signal the reappearance of an animal extirpated from the state in the 1800s.
“We’re really interested in trying to determine the origin of large canids when they turn up in New England,” said Kim Royar, a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “If it turns out, like the lab suggested, that this animal is of domestic origin, then basically we would assume it had been released into the wild by somebody who had bred it for sale. What we’re interested in is documenting whether there is movement of wolves from wild populations … in eastern Canada down to New England.”
Royar said the state has no evidence that such movement has occurred, though reports of wild wolves in Maine and New Hampshire suggest wolf populations may be crossing into the northeastern United States.
Michael Amaral, endangered species specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the discovery should signal a warning to hunters in the state. The wolf is protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and hunters who shoot them, mistakenly or intentionally, he said, face stiff fines.
“Gray wolves, even if they are of captive origin, are a protected species,” Amaral said. “I think the important message for Vermont’s hunters is it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that wolves can get to northern Vermont from existing wolf populations in Canada.”
Charlie Hammond, the man who shot the wolf in Troy, won’t be prosecuted, according to Amaral.
“Because it appears that this animal was of domestic origin … and other circumstances, we are not prosecuting in this case,” Amaral said.
Steve Mcleod is executive director of the Vermont Traditions Coalition, an organization that lobbies on behalf of hunters, farmers and other groups opposed to the reintroduction of the gray wolf to Vermont. He said a resurgence of the animal in the state would signal the decline of deer populations.
“There would be a deer slaughter that would result,” Mcleod said. “The white tail deer is the signature species of Vermont and it would really drastically change the balance of deer in the state over time.”
Austin said the department will have to pinpoint the origin and genetic makeup of the animal before it can fully understand the implications the discovery has for Vermont.
“What we haven’t done is ask an objective wildlife genetics expert … to help us understand what all this information now means to us,” Austin said. “What are the implications of that to wildlife conservation in Vermont? We’re going to work hard to get those answers.”
A 72 lb. (32.66 kg.) canine was shot in Glover, Vermont in 1997. DNA testing found it was of Gray wolf (Canis lupus) mixed with possibly coyote and domestic dog.
Reports of sightings of unfamiliar canines in Androscoggin County, Maine go back to 1991, and just over a year ago a canine thought to fit the descriptions found in previous accounts killed by an automobile on Route 4 in that county was photographed.
The event was near the village of Bokonbayevo, some 186 miles east of the capital Bishkek, August 24, 2007. More then 20 hunters with dogs and eagles took part. The slideshow illustrates exhibitions of hunting with Taigans and Golden Eagles using domesticated wolves as the quarry. The Salburun (hunting) festival has been held annually since 1997.
THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn.-
Mike Olson had been working under his dad’s deck for about 20 minutes when he realized he wasn’t alone. “I cocked my head back, and I saw those two eyes looking at me,” Olson said of the Monday encounter. “I got out real fast.”
Olson had seen what he thought was a gray wolf (Canis lupus -JDZ). “It was probably 6 feet away,” he said. “It was just laying down. It had its head up and was just looking at me.”
Olson and his dad, Erling, called the police, who responded expecting to find a large, wolf-like dog beneath the deck.
“They put their head under the deck, and sure enough, it was a wolf,” said Craig Mattson, deputy chief for the Thief River Falls Police Department.
Police and the city’s animal control officer were unable to put a noose around the wolf’s neck and capture it alive, Mattson said. He said the animal had been growling and appeared to have mange, a parasitic infestation of the skin. So, a section of planking was removed and an officer shot the 104-pound male wolf, Mattson said.
It’s the first time Mattson can remember a wolf in town.
As for Olson, he cautiously went back to work on the deck Tuesday.
Darren Naish reviews evidence suggesting that the conventional view that domestic dogs descend from a number of independently-domesticated wolf populations is wrong. Recent studies suggest that domestic dogs more probably descend from an ancestral form much closer to pariah dogs, the semi-domesticated and feral dogs of the Old World tropics.