“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Night of the Red Wolves



50 years ago, Red Wolves were native to North Georgia.  Unfortunately,  people killed them for the sheer "fun" of shooting them.  They are harmless animals, shy and they steer clear of human habitations for the most part. No matter, people hunted them to extinction, just as they did the mountain lion and a number of other animals that had lived here for centuries.

About 15 years ago, the forest service tried to reestablish both the mountain lion (called panthers here) and the red wolf.   The mountain lion project didn't work very well, to the extent that until just a couple of years ago mountain lions were still listed as extinct in Georgia.

The red wolves did better. The breeding pairs were brought in from Florida and they did well .  We still have people who sho0t them, knowing full well that they are protected, just for the hell of it.  No one ever accused red wolves of killing stock, or killing pets, or anything else. They primarily hunt small mammals like rabbits, and they scavenge carcasses.

I once came out of my house early in the morning, to sit on the porch as the sun came up and drink a little coffee.  There were five red wolves sitting down in the meadow. Three adults and two adolescents. My dogs weren't fussed by them, and they didn't seem to mind the dogs but they minded me and took off.

Tonight I was out on the porch and I heard them way back up in the national forest "singing." They sound like Gray Wolves, only not as "throaty."  I know they aren't dangerous, but I went ahead and turned on all the red security lights on the outbuildings and  the rest of the red security lights that were not already on around the main house.

It's a strange thing to hear wolves singing.  Even in the certain knowledge that they represent no threat, it makes you feel kind of odd.  I suppose it's an atavistic throwback to the time when wolves really represented a threat to people, and night was the most dangerous time of all. Must be there in the genes, buried in some quiet recess of the DNA.

30 comments:

  1. NOTHING is "dangerless." Coyotes are the smaller parent in the gene mix of red wolves, and they kill dogs, deer, sheep, and calves, and have even attacked a few people.

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    1. Georges, it's all relative. A tree limb could fall on me outstide, I know that. But I don't want to live in a sanitized world where everything has been made "safe" for me. Just about any living creature, even a cow, can do you harm, as you say. But the wolves here have never been implicated in any kind of attack on animals, stock or pets. If there was the slightest chance to do that, people would have done so because just the name wolf makes some folks feel like they have a license to kill the animals. I know coyotes kill chickens, I've lost a few chickens to coyotes myself, but I don't shoot coyotes either. The only person I ever heard of being killed by coyotes was that Canadian folksinger some years back and she went out in the woods alone, unarmed, and then tried to run.

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  2. The gray wolf here in Minnesota was hunted to near extinction and then reintroduced in the northern part of the state. Some were hunted for sport and others, particularly in farming country, when they developed a taste for livestock. The wolf population has grown to the point where last year they held a lottery drawing for licenses to hunt the wolf again, but limited the number that could be killed. I sort of hated to see that. Even when their numbers were down, I would once in a while hear them singing where I lived 300 miles north of here. It is a beautiful sound, but sends chills down my spine. I know it is not lonesome, but it sure sounds that way.

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    1. You know I like J.W. Rawles, but he's one of those people who would exterminate every living creature that posed any kind of threat to stock, real or imagined. There are people like that. One of the things I don't like about humanity in general is the idea that the entire natural order of the world has to be twisted and modified to suit "humanity." People have done an inordinate amount of damage to the environment with their ill considerered actions. Here, they killed the wolves and the mountain lions, and then whined when the deer population got out of hand and the deer caused accidents on the roads and started destroying crops and fruit trees.

      Wolves howling off in the distance kind of adds a dimension of escape to living here. I'd rather have wolves than human neighbors with their noise and their intrusions into my own life style.

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    2. After the wolves had been nearly eliminated, the white tailed deer population exploded. As far as I know, the deer have no other natural enemies other then the wolves. As in your area, it wasn't long before it was common to hear of deer being killed on the roads. I knew a fellow who hit three of them with his car on the same foggy night. Then the browse that the deer feed on in the winter became difficult for the deer to get to, as so many were feeding off the lower branches of the cedar trees. Soon the locals were cutting cedar and hauling hay for the deer who were, by this time, starving. The situation got back to somewhat normal after the reintroduction of the gray wolf. Seems to me that if there had not been a bounty on wolves for so many years and if humans had just left things the way Mother Nature intended, all of this could have been avoided. I understand killing for food. My family nearly lived on venison for a number of years. But I will never understand killing just for the fun of it.

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    3. daughter has lyme disease. i think if the deer hadn't become so numerous there might be less suffering from tick diseases, although i might be wrong.

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    4. Generally, nature works things out equitably. People don't. I'm not a tree hugger or a green weenie, but I do see how our species has had a drastically negative impact on the environment. When we blow out an oil well in the Gulf, or exterminate a species, or bring foreign , invasive species in like pythons, we don't just injure humans beings, but everything that lives in that effected area. When you look at the human race in general, I'm hard put to think of any other species that has spread so fast, done so much damage, and seems so hell bent on self destruction.

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  3. Race memory, racial memory, collective unconscious--all terms to describe memory we have at birth that is from experiences of our ancestors. (Race has nothing to do with us being Caucasians or not.

    The yipping of coyotes across the street scare me. I think wolves "singing" would really terrify me.

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    1. I bet you would like it once you got used to it. It's like bears coming through the meadow, or the deer walking through the woods out in front of the porch. It's reassurance that the tendrils of Ronald McDonald society haven't reached you yet.

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  4. Coyotes are close and signing every night, so much so that the cats growl inside. Wolves here in Oregon are killing livestock. The politicians who love to bring back the predators should have wolves in their public parks....seems fair.

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    1. I feel about the wolves like I do about dogs. I know they can't be allowed to kill livestock. At the same time, I'm revolted by the lift kit pickup truck cowboys who go out and shoot wolves for sport. Aside from the fact that it's against the law, I'm infuriated by the wanton stupidity of it. If wolves are killing livestock then it may be necessary to kill them, just as it might be necessary to kill dogs who do. But I haven't heard of that happening up here in the mountains so I can't see any point in killing the wolves.

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  5. Harry - we have coy-wolfes (a mix of coyote and wolf) that came from near the great lakes, bred and then slowly started moving east. they came to the island from the mainland in approximately 1977. they are here but they are not numerous and they really don't like people. they are slightly smaller than a wolf. jamie has only seen a tiny one on the road to our river. that was the only time we ever saw one and that was 3 years ago. they keep very much to themselves. we have heard them a few times and both jamie and i have always loved the sound - strange eh? i find it haunting, lonely and beautiful.

    much love to you and yours, always. your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber, I moved way the hell out here in the woods in 1986 because I wanted to live where people hadn't turned everything into suburbia. I like the animals out here. Not one of them has ever done me one iota of harm, and that's a lot more than I can say for people.

      I'll take wolves howling over leaf blowers, loud music, flood lights, and arschlochs's calling me on the phone to complain about my shooting any time.

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  6. Here in Maine we have the occasional Coyote. But they are quite rare. In 30 plus years of living here I have only ever seen two of them and both right in our neighborhood. First one was hunting mice in a ditch next to the highway off ramp. Then couple of years ago I saw one trotting down our side street making a beeline for the woods across from our house, though he seemed rather large for a coyote, and may have been a Coy-wolf as Kymber describes.

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    1. Until I read the comments today, I had no idea that the red wolf was evolved from a coyote wolf mix. Nor did I know they existed anywhere other than Florida, Alabama and now Georgia. I am assuming the wolves in Canada and in your area are the same animals as we have here. I'm glad to know they have a more widespread range than I thought.

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  7. Its a shame we folks kill animals for the thrill. It should only be when there is danger or for food nothing more.

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    1. There are people who will sit on their porches and shoot other peoples cats when the cats cross their cornfield. I have always thought those people ought to have enlisted and gone to shoot at something that could shoot back. They might lose their taste for that kind of activity in short order. I have nothing against hunting for food, or protecting your own animals. Just killing animals for fun drives me wild. I have no idea why.

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    2. I don't agree with wanton killing either, but I do believe there are other reasons for killing them... In particular, the Canadian grey wolf. We can debate the merits of wolf reintroduction to the western states till the cows come home, but some cows don't. The destruction of Joe Rancher's livelihood and to our elk herds cannot be underestimated. As a sportsman, this is a hard pill to swallow. The feds gave preferential treatment to one species (and to special interest groups), while many other species are now in decline. The ecosystem is now out of balance.

      To fully appreciate wolf destruction, you need to see it with your own eyes...much of the time grey wolves kill for fun. When I am out in my local mountains, it saddens me to see dead elk calves and sheep left to rot.

      Sorry folks, I can't get on the wolf bandwagon. --Troy

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    3. Troy,
      I can understand the issue. I don't go along with the "exterminate them all" espoused by Rawles and others. I suppose part of the reason is I don't see human beings as something special, and I know that a lot of what they do in furtherance of their own needs is counterproductive overall. It's one of those issues that people feel strongly about , whatever side they are on, and that's about all you can really say of it. You're entitled to your opinion and it doesn't necessarily have to be mine.

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  8. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    We got a whole mess of Coyotes out on Padre Island like I talked about in the past.
    Down here most people don't like Coyotes and they get shot at often. I figure that if a Coyote is leaving me and my stuff alone, I just assume let the Coyote go on about its business.

    On a side note, if you check the latest post at "The Field Lab" called "Busted"
    John Wells has a 'thieving Raccoon" caught on video that's kinda funny.

    Harry' you may want to consider setting up on of those game cams to get some video footage of what goes on at your place with some of the critters and varmints running around. You can set up the video online for us to watch if you want. Heck' you may catch some good stuff and they are great for security too if some 'two legged critter" comes up your road looking for something to steal.

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    1. I saw that raccoon on Well's blog last night. He doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would kill the raccoon for eating a few handfuls of grain. I think he mentioned he was going to find out how the raccoon was getting into the shed and just block up the hole.

      I have a brother who has trail cameras all around his property in the Sierra Nevada's. He mostly gets pictures of bears and deer. I looked at buying one out of the sportsman's guide but they are all pretty pricey.

      If somebody came up here to steal from me, I wouldn't need pictures to find them because the Sheriff's Department could just come get the bodies and they could use those for identification.

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  9. Here in NC, FWS has tried to restore a wild population of red wolves. However what they released happened to come from a hybrid swarm in TX & LA. It at the time was determined to be the purest red wolves. That was in the early 1970's. Since they released the first pair in NC back in 1987. The wolves did very well until the coyotes moved east causing a widespread hybridization problem. That began around 1993. FWS has spent upwards of $30M here in NC alone trying to adapt to a landscape full of coyotes. It's clearly not working and the coyote is here to stay and our new apex hunter. FWS is doing an indepth evaluation now which will be concluded around the second week of Oct. My feeling is to protect the remaining generics we must trap them and move them to captivity. I've found a long thread by searching red wolf restoration scandal.

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    1. I didn't realize that wolves and coyotes interbred. I wonder why gray wolves aren't having the same problem. I went back and looked at the picture on the post and that wolf does kind of look a little bit like a coyote in some respects.

      There are pure red wolves in Florida, I think, since that's where Georgia got their breeding stock.

      Maybe they will have to put some in zoos but I'd hate to see that happen on a large scale. Animals were never intended to be pinned up. I know it's necessary now in some cases to preserve the species but it is regrettable.

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  10. Harry, my friend, i forgot to mention that i can't stand the idea of anyone just shooting an animal for fun...and i can honestly say that i know of no one up here that does such a thing - thank goodness. i love the people in our 2 communities and i would hate it if i knew someone who did such a thing. when jam was working at LobstersRUs a few months ago, someone yelled "seal" and a guy went out to his truck, got his 30-odd-6 and took one shot and got the seal right in the head. it was a very quick and clean shot. the seal was in the harbour and seals in the harbour is not a good thing as they will eat everything in sight. so that seal HAD to be taken out. but like i said, i don't know anyone here who just shoots animals for fun. thank goodness.

    one thing i really like about you Harry, is that you care for the animals in your home and you care for the ones around you. jam and i are the same. we even save flies. much love Harry. your friend,
    kymber

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    1. That's kind of the thing I'm talking about Kymber. The guy that shot that seal just shot it because it wasn't a positive thing for humans for it to be there. People who slaughter dolphins in the gulf of mexico use the same logic. They say the dolphins eat the fish so they have to be killed. But what , I wonder, makes it ok for people to kill other animals like that seal to suit their own often selfish and petty needs? I can't do anything about it, but I don't have to like it.

      As for people who shoot prairie dogs, ground hogs, ground squirrels and the like just because they like to do it, I have no use for them at all. Again, I can't stop them but I don't have to like them .

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    2. my friend,just to be sure...that is the only time that we saw or heard of anyone shooting an animal around here. just off of the beach there is a rock called seal island...and there are thousands of seals on this rock and they go to the opening of our river from the ocean and wait for the salmon to start spawning....they just sit there and wait...it is why we are not allowed to catch salmon at all...because the seals wait for them at the opening and really do a number so there are no salmon left in our river.

      i don't like anyone who kills animals for fun...and i am just glad that i don't know anyone who does that.

      much love buddy, always. your friend.
      kymber

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    3. Hey Kymer,

      (captaincrunch)

      You save flies???

      There's a ton of jokes there.

      I need a "Save the Flies" bumper sticker to go with my "Save the Leeches" sticker.

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    4. Kymber, I understand what you are saying there. It's just that people as a group, so often think that anything they do to serve their own purposes is alright , no matter what effect it has on anything else. I don't believe that.

      I don't think you are one of those. Didn't mean to imply that.

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  11. That's a memory buried deep in your " lizard brain". You have a memory of your primal ansestors huddling around a fire listening to the wild things scurrying just out of sight, all the while hoping they would survive one more day.

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    1. I have a vague recollection of the phrase "lizard brain" but I can't really remember what I was reading. I'm sure you are right about primal instincts being passed down genetically over the millennium. I remember reading a story in National Geographic that theorized most people are afraid of snakes because there was a time that snakes were predators of human beings.

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