These are both from the canine and feline species. And here they will be limited to those that are potentially dangerous for attacks on humans. And I will not be speaking of rabid animals that in a healthy or normal state shy away from humans, such as the fox.
In general, I’m writing about those of the North American varieties, such as bear, wolves, coyotes, wild dogs, cougars and potentially bob cats. There are, of course, other dangerous animals in North America, such as adult moose and feral hogs, but this will be limited to those known as predators.
Africa, of course, has its own kind that are generally known to those who’ve had the privilege of hunting there, but usually in combo with a hunt of other species that may be non-dangerous. These, of course, include two of the “Dangerous Five”, the lion and leopard, as well as a few others that under certain conditions may become a threat to humans such as the hyena and the African wild dogs that go in packs. These are, of course, predators of other animals and may become a threat to humans. While I have opinions and have watched many videos and read literature, I’ll make no further comments here. But I have been exposed to, or in close proximity to, the North American varieties mentioned above, so I’ll limit my discussion to those creatures of which the bear is unequaled in strength and ability to take down the largest antlered species North America has to offer by a single blow to its neck! Since predatory bears act solo, versus the wolf and coyote that act in teams or packs, I’ll nominate the bear as No.1 in predatory ability.
So in order of the most dangerous to humans:
The bear is No.1: In terms of the number of official fatal attacks, the bear is the apex predator! Of course, there are three main species of bear in North America, and not all historical attacks on humans, both fatal and non, have been recorded.
< There were four and now there are three horses. The fourth was killed by the bear my partner and I were hunting. That happened in a ravine beyond the trees in the background.
< It’s partially consumed carcass was found here.
My personal experience, of course, has mostly been with this top predator as recorded in many of my blogs.
But my nomination for No.2 in potential threat will likely surprise you!
The EASTERN coyote-wolf is No.2!
This creature is part wolf and part coyote, but sometimes listed as “wolf” in parts of Ontario, and in other parts as “coyote”. All I can say at the moment is that politics is involved, without any doubts whatsoever! There has been an ongoing “battle” in our area between those who own sheep or cattle and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry over the designation of this particular canis species. What are they? DNA research has confused the issues because of disagreement over methodology and interpretation. Some suggest them to be hybrids with a mixture of wolf DNA and coyote DNA while the Government insists the “Algonquin Wolf”, so-called, is a threatened Eastern wolf species! Lynda Rutledge, who has done DNA work at both Trent University in our area and Princeton, in collaboration with others, has without doubt greatly influenced the main wildlife biologist in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry within our Provincial Government. But other independent tests (from the Government) have not shown them to be “pure” Algonquin wolves” that are threatened. They are, without much doubt “Eastern wolves”. Such an “official” position doesn’t bode well with the herders and ranchers, as you can well imagine, since they lose both sheep and/or cattle to these wolves.
<Tracks of the “Algonquin wolf,” or “brush wolf”, or “Eastern wolf” — all three, or any one of the names could now be applied to the same animal that I was hunting. They were minutes ahead of me.
I’m now more limited as to where I can hunt either wolf or coyote since the MNR, in their “infinite” political wisdom, must protect the “Algonquin Wolf” that has been decreed such by a particular wildlife biologist – Lynda Rutledge. Is she an anti-hunter of both species? And, if truth be told, of all hunting? It’s parallel to the fox guarding the hen house! In this case, it’s the antithesis of that – it’s the dog in the hen coup protecting them from the owner!
And that’s the shared view of some farmers who face the possibility of ruin due to Provincial politics, essentially the result of one wildlife biologist’s personal conviction that has influenced others! And, of course, the liberal (read: left leaning) media is sympathetic and the politicians are well aware of that! As proof, just ask your local politician what he/she knows about “The Algonquin Wolf”, that supposedly is “threatened!
Whatever the case, I’ve come to not trust every opinion of wildlife biologists. Why? Because they’ve been wrong too may times, and are on a “learning curve” themselves. Plus the fact (according to a close friend who should know) they spend too much time at the office “studying” the opinions of their peers and NOT in the field!
And I’ve also had personal reason to seriously “doubt” their so-called expertise. A former, now retired, professor of wildlife biology at our local college “authoritatively” argued with me over the presence of cougar in Ontario. When he denied their presence, and I asked why, he said “Because the snow is too deep here for tracking and catching game!” How then, do they survive in Montana with deeper snow and colder temps? Or British Columbia? He apparently doesn’t know! And New Brunswick, my home province, where I’d seen one, and my son another a few years later, and a close friend another, and another friend who had been a guide for hunters, and the N.B. Provincial Government finally acknowledging their presence 20 years before my argument with the “distinguished” professor? I’d been a pastor in central New Brunswick where we had at least three feet of snow annually, and my field covered 3000 sq-kms! Plus, here in Ontario, I’d seen their tracks in snow in late March just a few years prior to this argument, not far from a winter residence where both the man and wife had witnessed a pair outside their window. This residence was on a frozen lake where I’d hunted wolf in the winter. Canine and feline tracks of these predators are distinctly different, and altogether distinct from bear tracks.
< bear tracks<wolf or brush wolf or Eastern coyote? Algonquin wolf?
<Cougar tracks, nearly identical to what I saw in snow. (Borrowed from the Internet as “Mountain Lion tracks”.)
So, I don’t trust the “wisdom” that comes from the mouth of someone, anyone, who is ignorant of the facts, but pretends to “know it all”, whomever they might be! And that includes some government officials and elected representatives of “the people”, who mostly look out for themselves!
One time, when I was a mere youth, my dad helped a local get elected as a Federal Member of Parliament for our county. He disappeared for four years in Ottawa (that’s our Federal Capital in case some Americans don’t know)). He never showed up in the county until the next election in which he sought help from my father once again. I was there when this happened: On the fishing boat dock, a few hundred yards from our house, my dad turned and walked away from him! After the election that man was sitting at home sucking his thumb!
If I had my way, and rural Ontarians had their way, half the elected reps would be sitting at home sucking their thumbs! But it’s the Big City (Toronto) that elects the majority and they know little to nothing about wildlife, except for the infestation of coons and coyotes that no one can get rid of because that might harm the ecosystem!
The facts are these regarding the “Algonquin Wolf”, ” coy dogs” , “brush wolves” and the Eastern coyote: They can go in packs, have killed moose, deer and lesser game, killed and ate part of Taylor Mitchell, a young lady and musician on the Skyline Trail of Cape Britain a few years ago, and have caused solo hunters to climb trees. A pack of eight to ten were driven into by a truck owned by our good friend Mr. Wallace on his way to our remote camp in New Brunswick that he made available to my brother and I. On arrival he told us (my brother and I with our wives) about it with a warning to evade them if possible as they were aggressive and dangerous — THAT WAS BACK IN THE LATE 1980’s! That man knew of what he was speaking because he owned a lot of remote land with wildlife, and had collected dozens of trophies that he showed to my brother and I with our wives in his own trophy room! Apart from dealings in real estate, he was a guide and outfitter in New Brunswick! Hello! Lynda, where are you?
So, who do I believe? Not the political lackeys, but real hunters and those who spend their lives in the outback!
Therefore, I list the “eastern coyote” or “eastern wolf”, so-called, as No.2 on my list of “Dangerous Predators” of Eastern Canada.
It is nearly as big as a grey wolf – at least the two that I’ve seen close up but not in a hunting context. And they are aggressive — not in the least shy! I saw loners, but they do hunt in packs as well.
I’ve also seen a “grey wolf”. They look very similar except for these distinctions: The eastern wolf/coyote has a variety of colours from near red to off-white, and an individual specimen may have mixed colours or mottled. They are also smaller on average than grey wolves — but some are as big as a mature male German Shepard, 75 to 90 lbs, and at least 2- ft. tall. A friend’s neighbour shot one that weighed 90 lbs.
The one that visited our property – here in Ontario – was estimated at 60 to 75 lbs. We live in a constantly developing area of a mid-sized town that dates to the late 1700’s. The growth around us right now is phenominal. People are getting out of Toronto due to immigration and Covid-19, and moving to towns like ours about 1 and 1/2 hours away. In consequence, the price of housing has quadrupled in the last 30 years! But about 20 years ago there was only vacant fields behind our property. One morning in late March, with a few inches of freshly fallen snow, I was in the kitchen preparing breakfast when I looked out the back patio door and there standing broadside to the right of the shed was a beautifully furred coyote – or was it a wolf? It simply stood there looking in the direction of the fresh rabbit tracks. I didn’t have my camera handy, so just watched. Then it left in the direction of the rabbit tracks. In hindsight, I believe it could have been a so-called “Eastern Coyote” and/or an Eastern wolf, or both. As stated, I estimated it at 60 to 75 lbs. After it left, I went to the front of our house, looked out the “picture window”, and there were its tracks coming over the front lawn in brilliant daylight following the rabbit tracks. To the north of us, at about 100 yards is a local farm and it came from there – fearlessly! NO! It was NOT a local dog!! I knew every local dog in the community
< This is a fair representation of what I saw, only in fresh snow. And the second was larger still.
The second occasion was early Fall, again in bright sunshine in early afternoon. I was travelling east on a major highway through farm country, slightly going uphill when “out of nowhere” a large, beautiful furred, grey, black and white “canine” ran across the highway a few yards in front of my vehicle. It was larger than the first mentioned — close to 100 lbs, or more. My immediate reaction was, “That’s a wolf!” Was it a wolf or eastern coyote, or a wolf-coyote? I’ve tracked a real wolf in snow in the area where I do most of my hunting on Crown Land, and did it for 3 – 4 years in winter.
My friend and fellow hunter, Ken, who was also a Conservation Officer with the MNR, were hunting wolf in the Haliburton Highlands in January – February several years prior to that trail becoming an official snow machine trail. I had hunted wolf in that area for a few previous years, and very well knew the trail of a particular solo wolf. On that particular day, I invited Ken along and mentioned I knew where a particular wolf was travelling, having followed its tracks in snow for a couple of seasons, at least. One one such occasion, I went to the same trail that had about three inches of fresh snow cover over a hard crust. I didn’t take my snowshoes because the crust under the fresh snow was supporting me. I soon came across fresh wolf tracks that had been made just moments before. So, I continued on across those tracks to near the bottom of the ridge, rested against one of the huge snow covered boulders of the area and began my simulated wolf call – no, it wasn’t a bought one! I used my hands and mouth! I waited for only a couple of minutes and decided to return to those tracks and follow them. The wolf was breaking through the crust every third or fourth step! I was not! Using my rifle I measured the forward steps from the rear. The wolf was only walking, not bounding or running. The space between front are rear prints in the snow were six feet! Add the tail and head, and that beast was about NINE feet from snout to tail tip!
Getting back to my hunt with Ken a year later: Again, there was several inches of fresh snow, and it was still snowing. We were slowly increasing our elevation over a tall ridge when we came to a sharp right-hand turn that increased the degree of difficulty. On several occasions at that corner I’d seen where the wolf came up from a ravine and crossed the trail and went into the hardwood above. I knew the area well having hunted whitetails there for several years, as well as black bear. But on that day, due to fresh snow and early in the morning, there were no tracks of any kind, anywhere! We continued on over the ridge down to the bottom on the far side where I wanted to call wolf. This was at the end of Koshlong Lake that was frozen and snow covered. We were on snowshoes, stepped off the trail into very deep snow on the edge of the lake. The plan was to wolf call, hoping that the lone wolf would respond in coming across the end of the lake. After about 1/2 hour of calling, and snow coming down continuously, and getting into late afternoon (3 pm), I said to Ken, “Perhaps we should get out of here before we’re unable to!” He agreed. We got back onto the trail and within 50 yards there were the fresh wolf tracks that had crossed behind us while calling! It went down into the ravine on the opposite side and from there I knew its route! It would come back up over at the corner on the other side of the ridge. The ravine was chocked with blowdowns covered by over two-feet of snow. I removed my snowshoes thinking I might go in as far as possible and catch it going up on the opposite side. Ken decided to backtrack to find where it had come from. We decided to meet up on the trail in ten minutes. I had no luck in trying to navigate the blowdown chocked ravine, so returned in time to meet Ken returning with a black hair in his mitt. The wolf hair was a black one and he found it on the frozen carcass of the deer it had been feeding on. (Later, another hunting buddy, told me he’d seen a black wolf in that area. And, the following spring as I was returning to my van from putting bear bait in my favourite site, the driver of the grader who had been smoothing out rough spots and pot holes on the dirt road, stopped, asking if I knew there was a black wolf in the area? I said “yes, I’m aware of that”.)
Back to the hunt with Ken: After a brief discussion about Ken’s findings, I said, “We need to try and intercept the wolf that will most certainly be coming back onto this trail on the other side at the corner!” So, Ken went up on top of the ridge into a small cluster of young hardwoods, and I continued down around the corner for about 35 yards beyond it to a big maple where I hid myself and could still see the corner that the black wolf hadn’t yet crossed. The snow was still coming down and it was late afternoon (4 pm) with darkness beginning to set in within an hour. I didn’t want to get stuck in snow back there in my vehicle. So, I left my spot, went past the corner (still no wolf tracks) uphill and whistled to Ken. He turned and greeted me. We had a very brief talk about needing to leave. So we did. At the corner, 50 yards from where we had our brief talk about leaving, there were the fresh tracks of the wolf crossing into the hardwoods above. He knew where we were at all times and waited me out until I met up with Ken 50 yards away! Then he crossed, and we could clearly see his tracks up through the hardwoods! All within 7 – 8 minutes from the time I left my post behind that big maple, went past that corner, uphill about 50 yards to talk in low whispers about leaving our hunt!
< This pic was taken from that trail near the corner which would be a bit further along.
How well do we know wolves? Loners? Black ones? And what about the MNR, what do they really know from their conflicting DNA studies?
Such wolves are no threat. They are loners and try to evade humans – which that one always did. Not so the “brush wolves”, or coy dogs, or the “Eastern coyote”. There were at least three involved in the killing of Taylor Mitchell. One was still standing over her body in a defiant mood (something like a bear claiming its property) when an officer shot it with a 12ga slug. Another was shot that had human flesh in its gut. That was considered the matriarch. Another killed had the same DNA as the female. The one standing over the body had a slightly different DNA that was considered the male partner of the female. They were the leaders of the pack.
If you should be an eastern coyote/wolf hunter as I am, or just a hunter for small game in Ontario and east of here, and run into a pack of “eastern coyotes” or “wolf-coyotes”, that appear aggressive, don’t run, but start firing, especially at the leaders of the pack. Safety first! Questions later!
The use of DNA testing has significantly altered official views of the Ontario coyote and wolf, and those east of here. As pointed out, however, it has been known by hunters in Ontario, as well as the Maritime Provinces, that the so-called “coyote” of these areas was often wildly different, not only from those of the west, but from each other. Some appeared to be “normal” coyotes, while others were non-descriptive. Unusual. Therefore the alternate “handle” of “brush wolves”. I knew a man whose brother, with fellow hunters, hunted them, and was shown some photos. That’s where I saw, for myself, the extreme variations of fur colours and sizes. These were mostly designated differently than mere coyotes. When questioned, often there was uncertainty of how to designate them, but “brush wolf” seemed the appropriate term.
If wildlife biologists would only become aware of what real hunters experience in their trips, I think at least some of them would begin to question some of their “book-learned” assumptions! But, apparently, most of them consider themselves better informed than the hunters “who really didn’t see what they thought they saw”, according to the arrogance of these so-called “professionals”. It appears that a majority of them who received their education a number of years ago have not yet caught up with more recent conflicting DNA research and uncertain conclusions. There are still varied opinions over those findings! In my research I’ve discovered that there may well be several hybrid coyotes and wolves, and wolf-coyotes in this area alone, as well as in the north and northeast of our province. I usually now have a tag in my wallet designated “Wolf/Coyote” for certain areas where a tag is mandated for Fall and Winter hunting.
Concerning cougar or the “mountain lion”: I came within six feet of a black cougar in New Brunswick while driving the Nashwaak River Valley late one night. It was silhouetted against the ridge that went steeply upward behind it. I slowed nearly to a stop beside it before it slipped into the ditch and disappeared. I questioned a well-known local guide and hunter, who also was a former friend, and he said: “Yes, they are well known here (among woodsmen, hunters and farmers) as “Devil Cats”. I did the necessary research and found that a black sub-species of cougar had migrated north out of Florida into the Appalachians, just a hop, skip and a jump into Northern Maine and New Brunswick. Ten years later our eldest son and wife saw another in plain daylight crossing the highway in front of them, not far from our lake property. They were travelling by auto down the “three-mile hill” and sighted what they at first thought to be a black bear until they got closer and saw the very long black tail! Prior to the New Brunswick MNR giving official recognition to the presence of cougar in the province, a co-worker witnessed another in the outskirts of Fredericton, the Provincial Capital, late one night.
Cougars are predators. The same animal is often referred to as a “mountain lion”, which is a misnomer, but are they dangerous to humans? What is your experience or the experience of those known to you that you trust — not just in theory but in truth and reality! Personally, I have no experience other than those mentioned – the sighting for perhaps a dozen to fifteen seconds from about 50 yards down to 2 yards in which I nearly stopped beside it. And the tracks in the snow that were definitely a BIG cat, but too long from front to rear to be a bob cat or lynx. It had to be cougar. And then… not much later, a friend (a Boeing test pilot) cited that he and his wife saw a pair of them outside their window in the snow on the shore of a frozen lake (They weren’t ready to go outside to feed or pet them!).
That’s all for now, until the next when we’ll discuss cougars, real wolves so recognised historically, wild dogs and bob cats… and being prepared for an unexpected confrontation with any of them.
And lastly, the APEX PREDATOR – the bear!