Joe Fleming had heard that a very large coyote-like animal had been prowling the area near Spillars Cove on Newfoundland’s Bonavista Peninsula.
And avid coyote hunter, Fleming decided to see if he could call this creature in when he went coyote hunting on March 12 of this year.
He was using an electronic calling device that is typically used to call in coyotes, and when he made a male challenge call, this thing came running out. He killed it with a single shot at about 200 yards.
The animal weighed 82 pounds, which is about twice the size of an average male coyote.
And the animal’s DNA was tested, and when the results came back, it was revealed to have been a wolf.
It was the first wolf confirmed on the island of Newfoundland since about 1930.
The DNA evidence also revealed that this wolf had come to Newfoundland from Labrador. The wolf traversed the ice in much the same way that polar bears do, and this year, more polar bears were seen on Newfoundland’s coast than in normal years.
Coyotes came to Newfoundland in much the same way. Coyotes are thought to have come to Newfoundland by crossing the frozen Strait of Belle Isle from Labrador in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
It means that wolves in North America are expanding their range in much the same way they are in Europe.
Bit by bit, they are spreading back into places where they once roamed.
And although this Newfoundland wolf was a straggler, it might not be very long before the island has a breeding population again.
All it takes is just a few more wolves wandering across the ice for a population to become established.
As a whole species, things are looking good for Canis lupus.
It’s going to survive.
Now is the time to come up with scientific management programs to ensure that wolves and people can coexist.
Wolves are returning.
We have to be ready to live with them.
And that means making certain adjustments in our thinking.
Yes. It does mean that some wolves will have to be killed– particularly if they are causing problems.
But it also means that some practices will have to be changed in order to prevent conflicts between wolves and people.
They are coming on their own volition.
We just have to think carefully.
We are the more intelligent species.
We have the capacity for destruction.
But we also have the capacity for reason.
And it will be reason that allows us to live in forests with wolves and other large predators once again.
I don’t see us trying to exterminate entire populations of wolves and bears in North America ever again. The public simply won’t allow it.
So we’re going to have to figure out something.
And I’m pretty sure we can.