Wolves Among Us

Several years ago, I had a conversation with a friend who at that time, like me, spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks in Update New York. This was in the 1970s. He had spent a week or so on cross country skis on the north slope (facing Canada) the previous winter. On his second or third day into the mountains, he picked up the trail of a large canid. He followed the trail for three days, and during that time the track of this dog-like animal did not veer even slightly. The animal was simply walking south. It did not veer back and forth, sniffing and peeing on things, inspecting and poking around. The tracks were not that of a coyote … far too big.

One cannot be absolutely certain without seeing the animal, but this had all the signs of being a wolf.

Ten years later, I was speaking with a man who had a collection of large cats. He was a professional animal keeper. One of his lions has been used quite a bit on television in commercials and such. He also had a couple of tigers and a cougar. Bababond (that was the man’s name) was visiting the Renaissance Fair in a rural area of Southeastern Massachusetts, with his cats.

The day before the Carver Police had come by to complain that his cougar was seen by local residents wandering around loose. Several individuals had seen the couger. However, Bababond’s cougar was never out of its enclosure. What seems to have happened is that a local cougar had picked up the scent of the captive animal and was curious enough to allow itself to be spotted. This was in the 1980s.

About the same time, I think a year later, I was driving north from Long Island Sound through a fairly rural area of Connecticut, when I spotted a moose walking along the far edge of a large wetland visible from the road.

Two years ago, here in Minnesota, a cougar was spotted in the parking lot of a gas station in the nearby southern suburbs of Minneapolis. A few months later Federal Game Wardens killed the cougar in a park near the Twin Cities Airport. They had known about this cougar for years, but kept it quite. When the cougar started to wander into inhabited areas, and was spotted by the game wardens watching people walking along one of the riverside paths, they decided it had become dangerous, so they killed it.

At the time of these sightings, there were no cougars in Massachusetts or central Minnesota, no Wolves in New York, and no Moose in Connecticut. Except the ones that were cited, of course.

Now this:

Rare Gray Wolf Appears in Western Mass. from PhysOrg.com
(AP) — 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.

[...]

The US Fish and Wildlife Service are pretty sure this 85 pound wolf was a wild wolf who had wandered into the area.

Comments

  1. #1 Laelaps
    March 5, 2008

    It’s amazing how many carnivores are trying to get back into parts of their ranges they were previously exterminated from. Although the corridors aren’t wide enough to let many animals through, some seem to be making it (but they’re often ultimately shot or don’t seem to found a new stable population).

  2. #2 BlindSquirrel
    March 6, 2008

    Friend of mine saw a dead cougar kitten in Rapidan MN. This fall a local made plaster casts of prints of a mother and kitten in Blue Earth MN. They seem to cruise the river valley.