Are there wolves in Arkansas?
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Are there wolves in Arkansas? I know there are wolves in captivity and some folks even raise animals which are part wolf, but what I'm wanting to know is if there are any wild wolves wandering the hills and mountains of Arkansas.
Everything I've read says, "No." The native red wolf was wiped out in the area since the early 1900s.
I still ask because the experts said we didn't havemountain lions in northern Kansas. Yet I knew reliable people who saw them there, and cougars tagged in South Dakota were found in Oklahoma. I figured the big cats had to at least pass through Kansas on their travels, and the evidence I saw was pretty convincing. Eventually, even the experts admitted they were there. Not only were there tracks; there were verified sightings by wildlife biologists.
I remember too, as a kidgrowing up in southeast Missouri, the stories of gray wolves in the area even though the experts said they weren't there. I do know that what we had was far bigger than coyotes, and I've seen plenty of goodsized coyotes.
I've seen wolves in captivity, but also in the wild while I lived in northern Minnesota. A pair crossed the road ahead of me one afternoon and effortlessly loped across a field while I watched. When I first saw them come out of the trees, my reaction was deer; but their long bushy tails and the way in which they ran as they crossed the open hay field made me realize what they really were.
Several months ago, justnorth of Gentry, I had one of those deja-vu experiences. As I was driving down a gravel road, I saw out of the corner of my eye what I thought was a pair of deer running through a field; but when I turned to look more closely, I saw the bushy tails and tall bodies, far too big to be coyotes.
I wondered about what I'd seen but read that wolves were extinct in Arkansas. I said nothing because I figured no one would believe me and some might even say I've been spending way too much time staring at a computer screen to see accurately in the field.
But then, just a week or so ago, Mrs. Griz called me to tell me what shewas looking at along the highway near XNA. She too knows coyotes. They were plentiful where we lived in Kansas and were often in our yard or in the field and along the creek banks near our home. What she described was the spitting image of a gray wolf. She had no doubt; and since I've also seen what she described to me, I decided not to challenge her report with my usual questioning skepticism. To challenge her sighting would call mine into question as well.
So, are there wolves in Arkansas? If the native red wolves are extinct, are some gray wolves from way up north in Minnesota or Canada just wandering through to get out of thecold? Could we be seeing dog-wolf hybrids? Or could some captive wolves have been turned loose or escaped from a private owner?
I'm curious. Has anyone else seen wolves in Arkansas, or have I been spending too much time staring at my computer screen?
Perhaps if I hear from others about their wolf sightings in Arkansas, I'll get up enough courage to tell my story about a latenight UFO sighting back in Kansas that I'm still trying to figure out.
Randy Moll is the managing editor of the Westside Eagle Observer. He may be reached by email at rmoll@ nwaonline.com.
Opinion, Pages 5 on 02/01/2012