Wolf sightings and encounters—part 2

In this, the second and final part of “Wolf sightings and encounters,” we’ll look at five eye-opening wolf reports that occurred in Winnebago County during September and October of this year. These reports are unconfirmed, but just because an official did not see the wolf or evidence thereof does not mean the mammal in question does not exist.

The Dan Lute family purchased an old nursery near the Rock River some years ago and live there appreciative of the surrounding greenery. Their acreage attracts much wildlife, and in September Dan was summoned to the kitchen window to look at what his wife thought was a wolf.

Dan thought it was a huge coyote at first, but when he recalled his memories of wolf watching at Yellowstone National Park, he slowly realized what he was peering at was a wolf. He watched it for five minutes through binoculars, then went for the video camera, but the wolf was gone when he returned to the window.

“It looked very much like a wolf,” said Lute. “When you see one, it just grabs you emotionally. It looked big, strong, wild and graceful. This thing had huge feet. I bet it could run for miles in the snow. Its fur was the typical gray wolf color.”

Jeff Keeler was driving on I-90 when he saw what he thought was a wolf cross the road near Rock Cut State Park. Keefer, lead howler in the Beatles tribute band, Simply Fab, said, “I didn’t have much time to watch it, but it looked like a gray wolf to me.”

Lloyd Hornbostel lives in wooded acreage on the edge of the old Kinnikinnick Golf Course. One day in October, he was puttering in the garage when he noticed through the window that something was walking in his yard, heading straight for the porch. Lloyd couldn’t believe his eyes as he watched a big mammal sniff his bird feeders, then stare into his house at the pet dog.

“It was a huge, dark charcoal-colored timber wolf!” said Hornbostel. “It acted typically wolflike. It was alert, sizing up everything, and it didn’t waste an ounce of energy by meandering around like a dog; that is, it walked in a straight line when approaching and leaving the porch. It was tall to the shoulder, it had big feet and light-colored eyes. I knew wolves have been spotted in the county, and Kinnikinnick is a good area for wildlife, but it’s still a big surprise when they literally show up on your doorstep. There used to be a coyote in the area, but he’s been gone for a while, but that’s what happens when a wolf shows up. Something ate a wild turkey in my yard not too long ago. I wonder what did that?” Lloyd is a geologist who lived in rural Idaho for many years. “I’ve seen many wild wolves in Idaho, and this one looked like it belonged out there. It was rough and tough-looking,” said Lloyd.

There was a report of a black wolf and a gray wolf together in a rural area near Rockton. They were seen by high school kids on a school bus. Horse riders on the equestrian trails at the Roland Olsen Forest Preserve became uneasy when they realized they were being observed by a black wolf. The wolf vanished moments later. Predictably, nothing happened. In the International Wolf Foundation’s winter edition of its quarterly magazine, International Wolf, an article titled “Wolves in Illinois and Indiana?” suggests with a question that wild wolves may be living in both states. The article was written in response to dead wild wolves found in both Illinois and Indiana. I know some witnesses who could answer the Illinois question.

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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