What eluded us in 2003

With all the wolf sightings in our area, no evidence was gathered proving they were the genuine article. I can’t chastise anyone because people around here just aren’t expecting to see wolves. And what percentage of citizens would know how to gather evidence?

Wolf evidence left behind would be footprints, chunks of fur from shedding or being pulled out by shrub and tree branches. Let’s not forget fecal samples a.k.a. scat. A prey kill site could yield a wealth of evidence that should be examined by a qualified wildlife specialist. All evidence deserving examination should be done by qualified individuals. It is tough to find physical evidence at times.

I once saw a black wolf cross a gravel road in northwest Wisconsin. The wolf was careful to avoid the soft, sandy edges of the road; thus, he left no footprints. On the other hand, wolves are experts at leaving evidence of their visits. This is part of their complex communication package that makes wolves experts at communicating with members of their own pack or other packs. But as surely as they can make personal sign, they can also move through the landscape like ghosts. When ghosts appear, however, humans can capture evidence with a thing called a camera. Keep a camera within grabbing distance; a video camera would be preferred.

In current wolf news, Lloyd Hornbostel had another visit by that dark charcoal wolf, but no photos or footprints. Others are watching Lloyd’s Kinnikinnick area for the dark ghost.

Dr. Gary Foster reported to me that he had seen what looked like a dead wolf in the grassy middle area between the north and southbound lanes of Highway 39 just south of the Rotary Road bridge.

“It was basically gray and white and huge, at least twice the size of a coyote,” said Foster. “It was wild-looking; it was not a dog.”

The problem was that it was five days after the fact before I got the info. Anything resembling a wolf would be picked up by the authorities, a road crew, or people seeking fur pelts.

I called Terry Norberg, head of the Sheriff’s Department’s forest preserve police, to see if any of his units had seen the carcass in question. Sergeant Norberg said no patrol officers had seen the carcass, but he would send one to recheck.

I called forest preserve police because the K-9 carcass was in a section of Highway 39 property that coursed directly over the Kishwaukee River. Norberg urged me to call the state highway garage in Dixon and the local regional state police headquarters at Pecatonica Corners.

The state highway crews that work Highway 39 in the area in question did not pick up or see the K-9 carcass. However, a state trooper at Pec Corners remembered seeing the carcass while on patrol. He described it as a massive gray and white wild-looking K-9. He saw the carcass on Sunday, which was one day after Dr. Foster saw it. The state trooper added that whoever picked up the animal took a large risk because of the speed and large volume of traffic on 39.

Well, someone took a chance because the probable wolf is gone. A great opportunity to prove that wolves are near slipped through our fingers. The priceless evidence was stolen.

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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