There is nothing odd about wolves in North America with black coats, but a particular wolf shot in the Boise National Forest in early 1909 did cause surprise, according to The Standard, Ogden, Utah, April 8th 1909. (This blog continues the series I began a few days ago with my survey of on-line United States provincial newspapers which can be found on http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/)
The story goes like this: (The headline is 'Freak Wolf is a Rare Specimen – Officials of Biological Survey Express Opinion – Strange Creature of Enormous Size and Curious Appearance – Not a Hybrid')
'The district forest officers have received confirmation of their belief that Forest Supervisors E.Grandjean`s freak wolf which he recently shot within the Boise national forest and subsequently forwarded to the biological survey at Washignton DC is indeed a rare specimen of quadruped.
'The strange creature was of enormous size for a member of the wolf family, with its back and other portions of its body covered with a heavy growth of black hair, resembling somewhat the coat of a Newfoundland dog, except that it was heavier and coarser.
'The most curious feature in connection with the animal`s appearance was the fact that it was “bob-tailed”. Old hunters and trappers in that part of the country, who examined the beast, stated that they had never heard of nor seen anything like it in all their experience. Even the Indians in that region were unfamiliar with the species.
'It will be recalled in connection with the early reports published upon the return of the Lewis and Clark expedition,that Captain Clark mentioned several times the discovery of rude Indian drawings upon rocks and ancient skins of well known animals of the Rocky Mountain region, also a few that were not known to people of that time. Among these was a giant dog-wolf of ferocious appearance and enormous size. A curling shaggy mane was represented as extending down the back of the animal and in one instance it was pictured bearing a young deer in its jaws, illustrative of its size and strength.
'It is possible that the specimen mentioned above is one of the rare descendants of an almost extinct species of wolf which once infested the Rockies terrorizing the Indians and remaining long in their traditions and picture records.
'The officials of the biological survey at Washington DC express their opinion that the animal who`s skin and skull was sent by the supervisor of the Boise forest, was not a hybrid and state that the only specimen that resembles it at all closely is one which came from the Priest river forest in northern Idaho. They are anxious to secure further skulls and pelts and offer a good price for same.' (1)
Another website; Howling For Justice, Blogging for the Grey Wolf, Black Wolves Result of Long Ago Tryst With Dogs says 'Between 12,000 to 15,000 years ago wolves bred with their close relative,the dog,who passed on to them the black coat color mutation. Black wolves are almost exclusively unique to North America. The black mutation is not present in Europe or Asia,ecept for a recent Italian hybridized wolf/dog'. (2)
1 The Standard,Ogden,Utah, April 8th 1909
2 Howling for Justice web-site. Downloaded January 2nd 2010.
Steeleeye Span Female Drummer
I was brought up in Yorkshire and when I was sixteen
I walked all the way to London and a soldier I became
With me fine cap and feathers,likewise me rattling drum
They learned me to play upon the ra-ba-da-ba-dum
With me gentle waist so slender,me fingers long and small
I could play upon the ra-ba-dum the best of them all
And so many were the pranks that I saw upon the breech
And so boldly did I fight me boys although I`m but a wench
And they buttoned them up me trousers so up to them I smiled
To think I`d live with a thousand men and a maiden all the while