Over Memorial Day weekend, my son-in-law spotted a wolf near Rangeley.
Having never seen a wolf -- just coyotes -- in Maine, I looked up websites about wolves in Maine. There are a bunch, so if you're bored, have fun reading them.
One site states that wolves were made extinct in Maine by 1890, mostly by hunting and trapping them. Other sites show photos of them, one about a year old.
According to a Maine Wolf Coalition article, "In August 1993 a bear hunter from Pennsylvania shot and killed a young female wolf as she came in to feed on bear bait in the north Maine woods. The killing of this animal demonstrated the very real possibility that wolves are attempting to recolonize the northeast U.S. after an apparent absence of nearly a century."
According to a Bangor Daily News article, a "photograph of a wolflike animal purportedly was taken in the Gorham area in October. However, a state wildlife biologist, while agreeing the animal resembles a wolf, is "very skeptical" the scene was photographed in that part of Maine during the fall, suggesting - because of the vegetation and plant matter - that the locale looks more like Oregon."
That article continues, "...canids were photographed with a trail camera in the vicinity of Wilsons Mills in February 2013. A state wildlife biologist says the animal on the right is a coyote while the larger animal on the left showed 'some wolf characteristics.'"
According to a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife piece, "Genetic tests on an animal killed in 1996 near Aurora, about 35 miles east of Bangor, initially indicated it was a wolf, but later tests with improved techniques revealed it had been eating a diet of corn or animals that fed on corn. A state wildlife biologist says the animal 'most likely' was a wolf hybrid."
So above we have a few of the online comments about wolves in Maine. From this verbiage, I gather that (a) there are wolves in Maine, (b) there are no wolves in Maine, or (c) there may be wolves in Maine.
And my son-in-law saw one.
Having never seen one, if I tripped over one, I wouldn't know if it was a wolf, a coyote, a wolf hybrid of some type, or none of the above. I would know it was not a Labrador Retriever, a number of which I raised, one having nearly drowned in the lake alongside of which we lived when dog snatchers apparently had chained her up on the opposite side of the lake, another also stolen by the same dognappers having never returned home, and another being so big and black it took my son and I both to find the monster in the dark and push-shove him into the house at night.
So I know a Labrador Retriever when I see one, feed one, push one into the house at night, or have other such encounters.
I just don't know a wolf when I see one, not that I've ever seen one.
But my son-in-law, who is a real outdoor guy says he's seen one. I don't doubt my son-in-law, who not only is intelligent but has good taste since he married my daughter.
If you're in doubt about whether wolves exist in Maine, I'd suggest either going out to look for one in the Maine woods -- a lot of woods -- or reading some of the websites where I read about them, which I can almost guarantee you will leave you about where you are now about them.
Some doubt their existence in Maine. Other swear -- or at least write -- that they do. As for me, I know there are Labrador Retrievers in Maine.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014