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short spine wolf

Reader Wendy Browne posted this photo of this wolf in my Facebook Group.

I did a reverse image search through Google, and it is a real image.

This wolf was killed in Russia, and it’s actually a good thing that the wolf hunters did kill it.

It was suffering from a severe spinal deformity–  an unusually short spine. This same condition does occasionally pop up in dogs.

This wolf was most likely able to survive because it could eat what its pack-mates killed, but at some point, there could easily be prey shortage.

And this poor wolf would be the first to go.

And my guess it would be as humane a death as a bullet.

 

 

 

 

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Kentucky wolf

(Not the guy who killed it)

A wolf was killed in Hart County, Kentucky, this past March. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources released this statement:

Federal officials recently confirmed that an animal taken by a hunter near Munfordville in Hart County on March 16 is a gray wolf.

A DNA analysis performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center in Colorado determined the 73-pound animal was a federally endangered gray wolf with a genetic makeup resembling wolves native to the Great Lakes Region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Oregon confirmed the finding.

How the wolf found its way to a Munfordville hay ridge at daybreak in March remains a mystery. Wolves have been gone from the state since the mid-1800s.

Great Lakes Region wolf biologists said the animal’s dental characteristics – a large amount of plaque on its teeth – suggest it may have spent some time in captivity. A largely carnivorous diet requiring the crushing of bone as they eat produces much less plaque on the teeth of wild wolves.

Hart County resident James Troyer took the animal with a shot from 100 yards away while predator hunting on his family’s farm. Troyer, 31, said he had taken a coyote off the property just two weeks earlier.

But when he approached the downed animal he noticed it was much larger. “I was like – wow – that thing was big!” he recalled. “It looked like a wolf, but who is going to believe I shot a wolf?”

Because a free-ranging wolf has not been seen in the state for more than a century, biologists were skeptical at first. However, wildlife officials were aware that a few radio-collared northern wolves have wandered as far south as Missouri in the past decade.

Wolves resemble coyotes, except they are much larger. From a distance, the size difference is difficult to determine.

Troyer convinced Kevin Raymond, a wildlife biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, to look at the animal. Once Raymond saw the animal was twice the size of a coyote, he contacted furbearer biologist Laura Patton, who submitted samples to federal officials for DNA testing.

Because state and federal laws prohibit the possession, importation into Kentucky or hunting of gray wolves, federal officials took possession of the pelt. Since this is the first free-ranging gray wolf documented in Kentucky’s modern history, federal or state charges are not expected because there were no prior biological expectations for any hunter to encounter a wolf.

This animal may have been introduced by someone who had a pet wolf and got tired of it.

Or it could have walked from Great Lakes population into Kentucky.  There was a wolf from this population that was killed in Missouri last year that clearly wandered down on its own volition. And another one was killed in the same state in 2010.

It is interesting that all three of these wolves would be Great Lakes wolves. That population is actually the healthiest population in the Lower 48, and they clearly are moving south.

My question is why are none of these animals reported in places like Illinois, Iowa, or Indiana, which lie between the core wolf habitat states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Kentucky and Missouri?

If they are dispersing this far south someone has to be seeing them in those states, too, but I never hear of anyone shooting a big coyote that turns out to be a wolf in any of those states.

So it’s an interesting question if this wolf came to Kentucky on its own.

But someday, there will be wolves in Kentucky. There will be no argument about where they came from.

The wolf is one species that is very likely to thrive in the twenty-first century, provided we don’t lose our minds and start trying to exterminate them again.

And that’s the big if.

But if we just leave them alone, they will return.

They are doing so in Germany and much of Western Europe right now.

It will just take some time.

And restraint.

 

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wolf

One of the most interesting things about the American right these days is how openly they embrace all sorts of intrigues and conspiracies. Perhaps the most absurd is the one about the government intentionally causing tornadoes to bring about both socialism and the New World Order!

But this stuff is actually old hat.

Anyone who has ever followed predator reintroduction politics in Western countries knows that conspiracy theories are rampant among those who oppose predator reintroduction.

These sentiments are well-known in the American West, where wolves are accused of killing everything, including grizzly bears.

But it’s not just confined to the United States, zoologist Lars Thomas writes about the situation in Denmark, which currently under an invasion of wolves wandering up from Germany. By “invasion,” I mean the odd dispersing young wolf has crossed through Schleswig-Holstein into the Jutland Peninsula.  Thomas writes:

Wolves have been a big issue in Denmark for several months now – for the first time in 200 years we now have wolves living in our little country – two of them to be exact. But unfortunately all the loonies have started to come out of the woodwork as well. Some people seem to have their knowledge of wolves from the tales of the Brothers Grimm, and we have been subjected to all kinds of paranoid and hysterical ramblings from people who are now too frightened to take a walk in their local wood, from politicians who are certain the wolves have been released by biologists as part of some kind of underhanded scheme to suppress people living in rural areas.

That’s exactly what we have over here.

And it’s not just confined to the West.

In my home state, we have little weekly newspapers that include local columns. Most of these are just ramblings about one’s neighbors have been up to, and if you’re not in the community, you really don’t get all the intricacies  and vagaries that are contained in the lines. Most talk about how many people were at the community church.

Very few get political.

In my home county, there is one of these weekly columns that does get political.  It’s basically all the local stories mixed the distillations from the bizarre World Net Daily website. It also includes examples of great zoological erudition.

For example:

The snow went away and the turkey buzzards returned and the spring peepers are now peeping. Speaking of buzzards, one fellow noted that one of the invasive, non-native black buzzards had a wingspan of 56″. The black buzzards pick out the eyes of newborn calves, lambs, etc. and also target people.

Calling New World vultures “buzzards” is one of those Americanisms that drives me batty. It’s on the level of Canadians calling a Richardson’s ground squirrel a “pocket gopher,” when it’s clearly not a gopher at all. It’s a squirrel, not really all that different from a prairie dog, which is also a ground squirrel.

But there are so many, many errors here. Black vultures are native to the Virginias. However, they are very uncommon west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is where 99.9 percent of West Virginia is located. (John Denver never looked at a map.)

In recent years, there have been a few vagrant flocks of black vultures that have popped up here and there. The only ones I’ve ever seen here were in a tree at the edge of a pasture just outside the little town of Glenville, West Virginia in the spring of 2005.  There were about a dozen of them, and of these, two were walking around in the open where I could get a good glimpse of them as I drove by.

Many people assume that because black vultures do engage in predatory behavior and do sometimes target livestock, such as newborn lambs and calves, that they are larger than the much more common turkey vulture. However, in reality, turkey vultures tend to be slightly larger than black vultures.  A turkey vulture can have a wingspan of up to 72 inches, so a vulture with a wingspan of 56 inches would be a smaller vulture than normal.

And it probably would be a black vulture.

And yes, they do prey on lambs and calves, and depredations by black vultures on lambs in Texas Hill country have been well-documented as a major problem for sheep producers.

However, they don’t target people.

You’d have to be quite paranoid to think that at any moment a giant bird is going to drop out of the sky and carry you away.

As African-derived primates, this is a fear for which we had some justification in our evolutionary past.  The famous Taung child was believed to have been killed by a prehistoric African crowned eagle, whose relatives still hunt monkeys in Africa today.

But for modern Americans to fear a vulture that only attacks newborn calves and lambs is probably one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard. Do you realize how much bigger a person is than a black vulture?

Of course, he doesn’t leave his paranoia with the “black buzzards,” the avian black helicopters.

No, he thinks Eastern coyotes, which wandered in here from New England and Eastern Canada after cross-breeding with relict populations of wolves, were actually introduced by the insurance companies in an attempt to reduce deer-related collisions with automobiles.

The other day a cattleman went out to check on his herd and noticed that one of his favorite cows, who happened to be expecting, was missing. He went on a hunt and found her with a fine new calf in the woods but she and the calf were worn out as three coyotes were circling looking for a tasty meal. A Mr. Remington equalized one of the exotic varmints and the other two fled the scene as they knew they would have an allergic reaction to hot lead. Someone else noted that they trapped one that had an ear tag that said “Property of State Farm Insurance”.

Coyotes are not “exotic varmints” at all. During the Pleistocene, large coyotes were common in West Virginia, and there is at least some historical evidence to suggest that some form of coyote may have existed in the Eastern US before being extirpated with the wolves.

And if anything, the coyotes haven’t done a very good job at reducing deer populations.

And this fact, of course, wasn’t missed by The Creston News.

One local resident saw one of the wolves that had been turned lose locally. He tried to shoot it but the shot was too long and the varmint escaped. One fellow noted that someone in the DNR was given millions by insurance companies to turn the wolves loose to kill the deer that were causing car wrecks. Earlier they had tried the coyotes but they didn’t do the job well enough.

So now we have wolves!

(We actually don’t).

This sort of folk zoology is what I call the Dale Gribble school. It’s not based upon science. Instead, it’s based upon a certain amount of paranoia that experts, who are suspected of being Marxists or liberals or Illuminati types, are using predator reintroduction to end the rural way of life.

Rural life in America and Western Europe has essentially been destroyed.

So few people in this countries live in rural areas that it is difficult to understand why people are so against predators.

Part of the reasons are rational:   Coyotes, wolves, and black vultures do kill stock, and in some areas, wolves and coyotes have been implicated in reducing the populations of some prey species.

But these reasons take on a theater of the absurd when they get mixed in with rural cultural politics.

Many people in traditional rural areas see their entire world falling apart before their very eyes.

It’s outsider liberals in the cities who want to take their guns, let the gays marry, and reject Christianity and “family values.”

The predators become scapegoats for that anger.

And the animals as biological entities simply are not seen for what they are.

They are seen for what they represent.

Hippies.

Yuppies.

And Ecothugs who just want to end all that is decent in the world.

It is nothing more than the culture wars’ ecological front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Canis lupus familiaris:

dog with wolf shadow

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Source.

 

PET ME!!!!!!!!!

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Fishing wolf in British Columbia

Source.

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A pretty good-sized animal.

 

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