Wolves in New Hampshire?
A couple of weeks ago I was driving home from work at night and an animal ran in front of my car and across the road. I saw it clear as day. It was a wolf…or, at least it looked like the wolves I’ve seen on TV and in movies. I told my husband about it, but he said I probably saw a coy dog, not a wolf. Well, I’ve seen coy dogs before and this was definitely NOT an eastern coyote.
Being an obsessive Googler, I searched online for photos of wolves (yup, the animal I saw looked just like the gray wolves I saw in Google images), but the news articles I found online indicated that there have been no confirmed sightings or killings of wild wolves in New Hampshire in many, many years.
I didn’t tell anyone else but my husband about my wolf sighting because I didn’t want people to start thinking of me as the next Big Foot lunatic!
This morning my officemate, Debbie Duffy, arrived at work and excitedly told me that she’d just seen a wolf run across Rt. 49. She, too, Googled wolf photos online and confirmed that, indeed, the animal she saw was a gray wolf.
I was so excited and described the animal I had seen to her. “Yes,” she exclaimed, “that sounds just like what I saw.” And we both agree that the animal did not appear to be a pet and we observed the animal coming out of the forest.
Hmmmm…is it possible that wolves have returned to New Hampshire?
I found the following story online:
“The gray wolf (Canis lupus) has long been subject to persecution by man. In New England the gray wolf was hunted to extinction by the mid 1800s. Amid serious discussions as to whether the eastern gray wolf is a separate species, the arrival of a young male gray wolf in Massachusetts will figure into decisions made regarding habitat protection in the area.
“In October of 2007, a wolf was shot in a rural area of northern Massachusetts. The animal had been reported to state biologists after a rash of sheep killings on a farm in the area. The day after biologists investigated, the animal was shot by someone other than the farmer. The biologists would not name the guilty party but stomach contents of the animal confirmed that it was predating on sheep.
“It was originally assumed that the animal was an escaped wolf but this has proven not to be the case. Biologists and conservationists have long thought that the recovering eastern Canadian population of gray wolves was likely to move south into the areas of northern New England and upstate New York where appropriate habitat exists. It appears that they were right.
“Young male wolves, like the animal in question, often separate from the pack over the summer and fall to hunt independently. Unfortunately in this case, the animal found easy prey in an unprotected flock of sheep. This makes his killing justified, as ‘rogue’ wolves that develop a taste for domestic livestock usually don’t change their eating habits.”
Eric Orff, Certified Wildlife Biologist, wrote that “New Hampshire, with land that is 90 percent wooded and thriving populations of moose, deer and beaver — prime wolf foods — has many of the right habitat ingredients to support a wolf population. Within the next few decades, we may see wolves return to New Hampshire on their own, and our canid family will be complete once again.”
Let me know if you have seen a wolf-like animal in or around Waterville Valley.
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