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From the Charleston (WV) Gazette:
Hunters who use hounds know full well that sometimes dogs get lost or, worse yet, killed.
It’s a nightmare scenario, one that can cause even the most pragmatic dog owner to wake up shaking and drenched in sweat.
Few nightmares, however, could be as harrowing as the real-life ordeal Larry Harrison and Scottie Derrick went through during an August dog-training trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The two Charleston-area men sent 10 beagles into a jack pine forest to run snowshoe hares. Eight of the dogs ended up dead, torn apart by wolves.
“It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in 30 years of running dogs,” said Harrison. “I wouldn’t want anyone to see what we saw.”
Harrison, Derrick and friend Jim McGuire of Jackson, Ohio, had taken their dogs to the Upper Peninsula to get them in shape for West Virginia’s upcoming rabbit season.
“Snowshoe hares are bigger than our cottontails, and you can more easily train dogs to their scent,” Derrick said. “The first three days we were there, we had a great time. But that last morning it all went bad.”
Just 15 minutes after the men released their dogs, the pack went strangely quiet.
“We could see from the GPS that one of Larry’s dogs was out of the pack, so we went looking for it,” Derrick recalled. “We got within 40 feet of it, but we still couldn’t see it. The GPS kept varying. We thought she was just shy and staying away from us.”
After a few minutes’ more searching, the men found the dog’s body.
“I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” Harrison said. “There wasn’t much left but the rib cage. We thought from the GPS that she was alive, but as it turned out the wolf must have been carrying her around while we were searching.”
With one dog known to be dead, the men looked for the rest of the beagles.
“We found the one, and then another, and then another, and then another, all dead,” Harrison said.
Shortly after finding the fourth dog’s body, the men caught a fleeting glimpse of one of the wolves.
“I looked up and saw a wolf pop out of the brush, about 40 yards away from us,” Derrick said. “McGuire yelled at it, and it was gone in a blink.”
Derrick estimated the wolf’s size at 120 to 150 pounds. “It was bigger than the biggest German shepherd you’ll ever see,” he said.
The wolves – Derrick and Harrison believe there were four to seven of them – killed eight beagles and injured another in what Derrick calls “the blink of an eye.”
“In 15 to 30 minutes, there was nothing left,” he added.
None of the men were aware that wolves might pose a threat.
“We knew there were coyotes in the area, but I hadn’t heard anything about wolves,” Harrison said. “I’d been going up there for 16 years, and the worst thing that had ever happened was the time a couple of our dogs got messed up by a porcupine.”
After the attack, the men started asking around about Upper Peninsula wolves. What they found left them determined never to return to the area.
“Michigan’s wolf management plan calls for a population of about 200 to 300,” Derrick said. “The population right now is estimated at 670 or so.”
Pressure from animal-rights groups has hindered Michigan wildlife officials’ efforts to reduce the population through hunting. A hunt will be held this fall, but will be halted after 43 wolves are killed.
“I don’t think any of us are going back,” Derrick said. “There’s too much risk to the dogs. If there’s a chance for something like that to happen again, we probably should just stay away.”
This story is certainly a tragedy, but I thought it was fairly common knowledge that there were a lot of wolves in the UP of Michigan. If you’re going to run hounds in wolf country, this is a risk that is always there– especially if they are little rabbit beagles.
I seriously doubt the wolf weighed as much as the hunter claims. The average weight of a Great Lakes wolf in the neighboring state of Wisconsin is 60-75 pounds, but a wolf is built differently from a dog. They have much longer legs than a dog of equivalent weight, which would be a golden retriever. One of these wolves might be 30 inches at the shoulder, but a 75-pound golden retriever would be only 24 inches at the shoulder. Add the thick wolf coat, and you can get the impression that a wolf is a lot larger than it actually is.
I also find it a bit strange that these beaglers didn’t know that there were snowshoe hares in the high Alleghenies of West Virginia. There aren’t as many as there used to be, but the state does have a snowshoe hare season.
So they can run their beagles after hares without ever having to worry about wolves.
I don’t think anything can be done to stop wolves from killing hounds. Hounds are run at a distance from their owners, and if you’re in wolf country, there is a chance they will run into a wolf pack. Wolves usually fear people, so if the dogs are ranged close in, there is less of a risk. But if you’re using hounds the way Americans like to, wolf and dog conflict may be impossible to mitigate.
It may mean that the only way to avoid a wolf attack on beagles is to run them in the Alleghenies and forget the Great White North of the UP.
It’s no secret. I love meme, but when I came across this one from Winograd’s No Kill Nation Facebook page, I tasted the acid come up in the back of my throat.
Everything wants to live, and this feral kitten actually is of an age when it might be tamed down.
But even with that simple observation, the meme is manipulative.
“You want to euthanize cut kittehs? You bastard!”
The thing is that feral kitten will grow up to be a feral cat, and if this is in one of those managed colonies, it will be trapped and desexed and released back into the wild. It will be fed cheap cat chow, which will subsidize its sport hunting proclivities. Kind of like a Meow-cescu. (Don’t give me hell for that pun!)
in an urban area, it will be at best a reservoir for disease. In a rural area, it will be part of the great mesopredator guild expansion. This is the world were the little predators now live without much fear of the big ones. This is a part of ecology we are only just now starting to figure out. North America was not always filled with raccoons and foxes, and feral cats are only very recent arrivals. Our small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphbians didn’t evolve with so many little carnivores, and it is hard to see how they could be benefiting from this new ecological realty.
I am tempted to make my own meme, maybe a photo of little rabbit or robin, that says almost exactly the same thing that this Winograd one says.
You can only support TNR if you don’t understand the science behind the mesopredator plague that has swept much of North America and Europe over the past few centuries.
Once you realize what’s actually happening in this wolf and cougar depauperate land, you won’t be so cavalier about saving the kittehs or letting your own cat roam outside unsupervised.
I have no idea what this is, but this year, there are tons of these things.
I know zoology. As soon as we start to move outside the animal kingdom, my knowledge base evaporates.
What are these things?
The ducks have been released on the pond! And they took to it like a duck to water!
I woke up this morning to check the comments on the blog. I normally do not close comments for older posts, and I often forget about the posts I wrote several years ago.
Some of them have never generated particularly good comments, and this particular one, which is not particularly profound or well-writen, is simply entitled “Hyenas are not dogs. They are actually more closely related to cats.“
The comments on there are pretty picayune and banal. The post was pretty picayune and banal, so what else would I expect?
Well, when I woke up this morning, I came across this gem, which I have to say is the worst creationist argument I’ve ever seen!
Here it is in all its glory:
Sorry, Hyenas are dogs. I do not care what you say. Evolution is a theory and has never been proven. Hyenas are not cats, and are not related to ferrets, weasels, civets, are any other animal. They are dogs plain and simple. If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck its a duck. Weasels, ferrets, civets, mongoose etc., do not look like dogs. Rest my case. Hyenas are dogs.
I hope this person is just acting a Poe.
It’s hard to tell with these creationists though. It really is.
I am having a hard time reading it without having blood vessels pop out.
First of all a ferret or a weasel is a Caniform Carnivoran. Caniforms are all closely related to dogs, though they are much closer in resemblance to primitive Caniformia than Canids (“the dog family”) are. The fact that they look like mongooses is really quite irrelevant.
Secondly, spotted hyenas look nothing like dogs, and only a really superficial examination of striped and brown hyenas would lead one to believe that they are anything like a dog. I know that the German and Afrikaans-speaking settlers to southern Africa called the brown hyena a “strandwolf.” The term means “beach wolf,” which is in reference to the ubiquity of brown hyenas along the Skeleton Coast, where they scavenge flotsam and jetsam and sometimes hunt fur seal pups. They were called wolves for the same reason that the same people called a giant antelope a moose. The eland antelope species of Africa are actually named after the Dutch/Afrikaans word for moose, which is eland. And it wasn’t just the eland antelope. Gemsbok, a type of oryx, share the same name with the chamois of Europe. Steenbok is the Dutch name for the Alpine Ibex. Rhebok are named for the Dutch/Afrikaans name for the European roe deer. All of these animals antelope, but none of their European namesakes are.
They also called the spotted hyena the “tiger wolf.”
But people giving animals inappropriate common names is pretty common in just about every language. What we call a moose, the Europeans call an elk. What I call a robin is more closely relate to a European blackbird than to the European robin.
So ignore the names.
Let’s talk phylogeny.
Dogs and hyenas really don’t look that much like each other. All living species of hyenas, except the aardwolf (another misnamed “wolf”), have evolved a bone crushing capability in their jaws that no living dog has. However, in North America, there were once dogs that had this bone crushing capability. These dogs, called the Borophaginae (“bone crushers” or “bone eaters”) live between 36—2.5 million years ago in North America. Some of them were giants, and many were quite well-adapted eating the bones of megafauna.
No living dog is a true bone-eater. They will eat bones, but they will never crush them with efficiency of any species of hyena or one of those Borophagine dogs. (If you want to find out more about the evolution of bone crushing in Borophaginae and hyenas, check out this lecture at the Royal Tyrell Museum. It’s very fascinating.)
Then there is the DNA. We’ve been able to construct phylogenetic trees based upon genetic material. Every study that has examine Carnivoran DNA has placed hyenas with the Feliformia. They are most closely related to the true civets, which is the family Viverridae. They did evolve into something like a dog, and if you watch that lecture at the Royal Tyrell Museum, you’ll see that more primitive forms of hyena actually looked a lot more like dogs than modern ones do.
When phylogenetic trees are drawn from DNA samples, dogs fit with bears and seals (and the walrus and “eared seals”).
Hyenas and dogs are out of two entirely different lineages that split about 42 million years ago.
The fact that they superficially look alike is not evidence of a common designer at all.
The big difference between dogs and spotted hyenas in particular is their social structure. All dog societies, save domestic dogs and some red foxes, are base upon a mated pair in which there are no great size or phenotypical differences between males and females. In spotted hyena societies, the females are larger and have dominance over the males. Status is inherited from mother to daughter, which does not happen in any species of dog.
And one way the females maintain their dominance is through a fluke in their anatomy. Female spotted hyenas have genitalia that strongly resembles a male’s penis, but it’s actually the clitoris. And it’s through this tube that female spotted hyenas urinate, copulate, and give birth through this pseudo-penis. Female hyenas have absolute control over mating because they can move this “device” to prevent copulation. All a female dog can do is sit down with her tail between her legs and growl.
No dog species has this feature.
The only other mammal that has anything like this is the fossa of Madagascar. It is sort of a mongoose that became a cat. The females of this species are born with a pseudo-penis that becomes a “normal” clitoris as the animal mature.
Fossas were once thought to be civets, but like all Malagasy carnivorans, they are now believed to be more closely related to mongooses.
But it really doesn’t matter. Both mongooses and civets are Feliformia, as is the hyena.
And it does point to common ancestry, even if the rest of their relatives do not have this feature.
A spotted hyena is not a dog with a pseudo-penis.
This same argument if taken even further would lead one to believe that a thylacine was nothing more than a wolf with a pouch on it.
Thylacines looked a lot like wolves. (See this page at the Thylacine Museum to see how similar they were). Even trained anatomists have mistaken thylacine remains for those of wolves.
They actually looked much more like dogs than hyenas do.
And they are absolutely not related to dogs at all!
They are most closely related to either the quolls, which look like miniature arboreal thylacines, or to the numbat, which looks like a thylacine that evolved into an anteater. (It eats nothing but termites, but it has the anteater’s long tongue!)
These animals are all marsupials. They share no close ancestors with dogs or anteaters or cat or any placental mamals at all.
The split between placental and marsupial mammals is even more distant– at least 125 million years ago.
Why do they look the same?
Because natural selection required that these animals evolve similar bodies to fill somewhat similar niches. (Though it should be noted that thylacines actually did behave more like big cats than wolves.)
Believe it or not, this dog-like form has evolved several times in the past. Not only do we have the aforementioned dog-like hyenas and the thylacine, but there was once a crocodilian that looked very much like a hairless coyote.
By this creationists’ logic, all these animals would be called dogs.
And they aren’t at all!
Yes, I do know I used scientific terms for female genitalia, which I know creationists like are icky.
But seriously, how dumb can you be!
This morning I woke up early and went outside.
I went without the dog. I wanted to get the drop on the local deer herd, and because these deer worry constantly about the threat of coyote predation, I knew that going out with a big blond wolf probably wouldn’t help my chances.
But while I was out stalking the deer this morning, I was overwhelmed.
The sun, now approaching its period of greatest strength in this hemisphere, cast down beams through the canopy. The dew on the leaves of the undergrowth glistened.
For the time being, I was no longer a modern human. I was essentially a being of the forest. Perhaps a hunter-gather of yore, maybe a wild beast.
I felt savage.
I hadn’t experienced this feeling in so many months. Most of the time I am domesticated, civilized, and utterly removed from the life forces that make our existence possible.
I am not a believer in a creator. I’ve come to reconcile myself as nothing more (or less) than a philosophical naturalist.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m devoid of my spirituality.
I was overwhelmed again, just as I was so many times before.
I remember a warm June night in the summer before my sophomore year in high school. The day had been punctuated with several midsummer thunderstorms. There were several downpours that day, and when the clouds finally cleared, it was late evening.
And I set out for a long walk in the woods.
As I walked on the barred owls started to hoot. Each breeding pair called from distant ridges. These were territorial calls, but they were hauntingly beautiful. As the sun set, the mist rose from the ground with the owls calling all around.
Another day, I was out with the dogs on one of those teacher work Fridays in which the students were given the day off. I do not recall my exact age at the time, but I was in high school.
It was early March and the land was just waking up from winter. It was overcast, as March days can be, but it was so eerily calm and sweet.
The dogs had a blast running around the woods. They became like wolves that somehow charged out of the Stone Age to run along side me and make me feel again.
These were the same dogs I took out for a long walk on that Fall Break Friday during my sophomore year in college. It was that October Friday that followed the vote on the Iraq War Resolution.
It was a war that upset me. I was disgusted with politics, and though I had been studying political science and international relations in school, I knew that I needed the golden red leaves, the soft autumn sunshine, and the gentle lick of a golden retriever to help me escape.
Man’s inhumanity abounded before me, yet for a time, I was detached from the evils of my species.
It took being overwhelmed by the natural word to soothe me and give me some succor.
I don’t drink, mainly because I don’t like the taste of ethanol, but sometimes I must imbibe on the liquors of the sun, the trees, and the forest.
I become intoxicated by it.
And it frees me.
Maybe for just a moment.
But in that freedom, I’m in ecstasy.
So the sunlight filtered through the canopy, I felt overwhelming joy. I breathed in the sweet air and tried to wonder why every day couldn’t be just like this one.
For as soon as I begin to wonder, I know that I’ll start thinking of the mundane things once again.
These are things that a best keep me from self-actualization and at worst keep me imprisoned.
I can let them go when I’m overwhelmed.
I can be.
And not really be.