If you’ve not yet read P1 (June 19), I’d recommend that you do so since some statements in this piece will flow as a continuum of what has been written there. Especially is that so due to conflicting analysis of the evolutionary model for the “eastern wolf” and “eastern coyote”. Then, there are those who are adamant in their disbelief of a “black-phase cougar” in Eastern Canada – even to a good friend and fellow hunter who’s daughter saw a black one behind their barn late one night! That was explained away as “a pet that got loose”. And his hobby farm was only two miles from where I’m typing this in south-central Ontario, not New Brunswick where I saw one as well as my oldest son several years later in the mid to late 1970’s! Am I to think that all three sightings were of “a pet that got loose”, when separated by 1500 miles and thirty years? Plus occurring in remote, near wilderness type areas?
Despite multiple reported sightings of cougar in New Brunswick, the officials said they wouldn’t believe it until they had a dead carcass in their hands that they could do a DNA test on! Well, that happened but it took at least 25 years for them to “get their hands on” a dead one! After that an official statement was issued that the Province of New Brunswick did indeed have cougars in residence! Then they asked for more sightings! They didn’t accept the former sightings, but now they wanted more “proof”! And “they” became the final authority?
At the current time, we in Ontario are going through similar political hoops! Though Ontario has a land mass 14.76 times that of New Brunswick and over 18 times its population, with the largest city in Canada – and one of the largest in the world – YET we are apparently behind N.B. when it comes to our “official” understanding of the wildlife within our borders!
<New Brunswick is one of the three Maritime Provinces and one of four of the Atlantic Provinces. N.B. is bordered on the north by Quebec, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the southeast by Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy, and on the west by Maine. 83% of the province is forested and the top half by the Appalachians. 1/3 of the population is francophone (mostly in the north and northeast) and the rest is anglophone. The French population is known as Acadian French. Both French and English are official languages – the only province with two official languages. The two major cities are Moncton and St. John, with Fredericton as its Capital on the St. John River about 100 Km north of the city of St. John on the north shores of the Bay of Fundy. Nashwaak Bridge, Mcgivney, Stanley and Napadogan were the areas of my work as a young pastor. The sighting of the black cougar was near Nashwaak Bridge on the highway from Stanley. (For a larger view, right click on image for “Open in a new tab”, then left click on it and then left click on the “New Tab”)
With that as a preamble, we’ll now proceed with a discussion on “Dangerous Predators” of North America which includes:
The Cougar (or Mountain Lion):
I know that cougar are hunted in several Western States of the USA, often using dogs. There are also cougar in Western Canada but I don’t know if they can be hunted, and I’ve not yet done the research as my current concern is the ongoing debate in Ontario and east of here.
Cougar are big cats that sometimes attain 200 lbs in big males. So any wildcat that can attain that size isn’t your typical house pet! They are carnivores! They eat meat! Sometimes big meat! So, they have to be treated as potentially dangerous! I’ve yet to read any stories to document this except one on “TV news” that described a cougar that snatched a baby or toddler from it’s crib or playpen outside the house in a somewhat remote area of the Western USA. That sounded a bit like a leopard snatching a young African child in daylight from just a few feet from the mud hut – which still happens in parts of Africa! So, in my thinking, any big wildcat has to be given due respect and caution. After all, they are wild felines, not toys or pets!
Media types, and “soft-hearted”, sophisticated North Americans (including any others of the type) think and hope that harmony can ultimately be achieved between such wild species, with big claws and sharp fangs, and the human species. “We” need more education so we “see” their sophisticated and progressive ideas about the natural world, and that creatures with big teeth and claws will gradually evolve into mild-mannered pussy cats when they feel “safe” and not threatened! REALLY! I didn’t know all that! Thanks for letting me know the truth about wildcats “true” nature, and human’s need to become more like cats when they’ve evolved a more gentle disposition with short teeth and claws!
As an aside, I happen to like “house cats”, having had my own since I was a four-year old! One of the “tricks” performed by “our” cats was to drop them out of a second-story bedroom window and watch them land on all “fours” before they reached the ground. Of course, my brother and I were not much more than toddlers at the time. See, I’ve evolved into liking them! In fact, I had my own black and white that somehow climbed the lilac tree beside our house, got onto the sun-room roof, jumped eight feet across to the roof of the bay window over which was the window to my bedroom! She’d beat on that window til I let her in where she’d snuggle under the covers to sleep with me! She faithfully did that until I left for college! So, I’m not a cat hater, but I respect the big-wild ones for what they are that can bring down whitetail deer and cattle-size game! And I’d have no intention of letting a cougar (mountain lion) or leopard eat me for lunch! The way I’d “not let them” wouldn’t be in “sweet-talkin'” them! No-sir! I’d let my rifle do the talking!
< Now that’s a BIG cat!
I’ve gone into some detail over the current state of affairs in Ontario where we’ve lived for the past forty-plus years. In Lynda Rutledge’s paper modelling the evolution of the “eastern wolf” and “eastern coyote”, one is left with more questions than answers in my view. How could it ever be possible for a “pure-bred wolf” to remain “pure” from intimate contact with “wolves” of any other genre unless isolated in a zoo or some other impenetrable barrier, man made or natural? No human race or nationality remains “pure” from any other. Hitler attempted to create a pure Arian race and we all know the tragic results of that! But, nonetheless, there may be what is now known as “wolves” in Ontario. Whether they have some coyote genes or not – that might be debatable – the MNR has vacillated over time on this issue. Personally, as described in P1, I know I’ve encountered what could only be described as “real wolves”. In size, they are larger than the so-called “eastern wolf” and “eastern coyote”. Some also tend to be loners, at least those I’ve encountered. Are they “Grey Wolves”? I tend strongly to think so! In fact, the second encounter mentioned on a highway going east in which my first impression was “That’s a wolf”, still lingers. I said it was probably a hundred pounds, at least. It looked very similar to the one in our back yard, but about 25-30 lbs heavier. If I had any doubts over its genetics, that was due to its location in which denial by the “authorities” would be firm that “real wolves” would not be found that far south! Of course, I was driving my car at about 55 mph, and the animal came out of a field to my right, bounding across the highway about 30 yards in front of me, leapt over a fence and disappeared into the woods beyond. Was it an “eastern wolf”, or a traditional Grey Wolf? Being farm country, it was evidently chasing either domestic animals or white-tailed deer – and was in familiar territory – being in a very healthy and mature condition. No, it was NOT a coyote, eastern or otherwise. And it was alone, in which all things considered I sensed it to be a male.
< In an Internet search of Grey Wolf pics, this one comes very close to what I saw bounding across the highway. I detected no red or brown flecks, only white, grey and black with a dominant white coloration. And it was big! The time of year was late summer – early fall with no snow. And where is the wildlife biologist who has done DNA testing of the type of canines of which I am a witness?
And that was not an anomaly. Don’t believe it if you don’t want to, but I had a very similar experience at a different location and time (actually earlier by a few years) in travelling a major highway going south to Pearson International Airport (Toronto) at 3 a.m. to catch a flight for my brother and wife returning to New Brunswick after a visit with us. So they also were witnesses. That was late fall. In descending into a narrow valley in farm country a huge wolf (same coloration as the one above) ran across in front of us with the beams of my headlights clearly revealing it to be a wolf. And it was larger than the one described above… in fact it was huge! Lest someone thinks I’ve lost it, within a few months one of our church elders, having never heard my story, told me of nearly hitting a huge wolf an early morning of the past week on his daily trip to work at General Motors in Oshawa. And it was the identical location where I saw, without too much doubt, the same animal. In his words: “It was as high as the hood on my truck” (a pickup). So Grey Wolves (Timber Wolves) don’t just live somewhere in the remote north of our province, hunting in packs with a dominant pair. So who is researching the Grey Wolf (Timber Wolf) of SOUTHERN Ontario!? So how much do these “trained professionals” REALLY know? And what is the distinction in DNA tests between the Grey Wolf and “Eastern Wolf” – the presence of some “coyote” DNA?
And what explains the distinction in the average weight of northern Manitoba’s black bears and those of Ontario across the border? They are all blacks, but those of Manitoba are bigger on average! Yet, there is great speculation in the answers given! Then, how does one explain the very apparent distinction in size between two human families in the same small fishing community in which I grew up? One man from one family was 6′-5″ at 280 lbs, and another from a different family weighed 1/2 that at 140 lbs at 5′- 6″? Can all that be explained based on genetics? To complicate matters more, how can genetics explain the real fact of two men from the same family being distinctly disparate at 5′-4″ in one while the other was 6′-1″? Simple DNA — how far back?
Little wonder that there’s confusion and disagreement over where a particular “dog” came from, and to what “family” it’s related!
My background is said to be English and Scottish – and who, but God, really knows what else! The truth of that matter is that we ALL came from the same man and woman, created by God, who disobeyed Him and caused not the “rise” of the human race, but its “fall”! And evolution hasn’t improved that situation no matter how “educated” or “uneducated” a person might be! Just look around you, and within, and tell me I’m wrong! John Newton, the former slave trader, had it right in his famous gospel song “Amazing Grace” – Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see…” What ever that “wretch” IS or might have been, I have the same blood, and, if honest, I have to say: “There go I but for the grace of God!”
What about the moose of Ontario and Quebec, and throughout all of Eastern Canada: Moose hunters of Ontario – and there are about 100,000 of them — rarely, if ever, witness a moose “harem”! I never have and I’ve seen quite a number of moose in the areas I’ve hunted! The bull I shot was all alone with one cow and her calf. Yet that is not the common “news”! All TV and other sources show bulls fighting over a “harem”, which, I concede, may occur further west in Canada and the USA. And then there’s the”Alaska-Yukon” moose and the “Canada” moose. Did they simply know where the borders were and shouldn’t co-habit with those east or south of there? Some moose in Ontario have been weighed at 1400 lbs!
“What’s the point?”, you may ask: All wild creatures have surprises for us in their adaptations to physical realities. And some don’t cater to too many of their kind in the same area. Adults of species, as well as their offspring, move out the same as humans mostly do. I didn’t want to live a married life with kids in my parents home! Neither do moose! Nor, apparently, wolves. Bears go where there’s food, and by times that might be your front lawn with an apple tree growing on it! We are surprised, if not shocked, in seeing wild animals where they’re not supposed to be according to conventional wisdom, and often their colours and sizes don’t fit what “the book” says they’re supposed to be either!
Once in travelling south of here in the Bethany Hills in the dead of winter, as I crested a hill there stood two large whitetail deer in the middle of the highway. That was not entirely strange, but it was obvious that since they were travelling together and of equal size that they should belong to the same family of deer being born the same spring. Yet there was a great disparity in their coloration: One was a pale tan and the other was a dark red-brown! I didn’t determine their sex as both were antlerless, and bucks would have shed their antlers by then anyway. They obviously wanted to get out of the deep snow of the woods they emerged from as they were just standing there on the highway. I had to swerve a bit to miss hitting them. But they both looked healthy and strong at close to 300 lbs each!
Wildcats typically are loners, and black bears don’t like the same turf as their aunts, uncles, cousins or even siblings! So, why not wolves? So, “learned” types tend to think that one “model” should fit all wild canines — you know a big family of wolves hanging together! And because they haven’t yet discovered a different “model”, it’s a “one size fits every foot” sort of thing… or as regarding the early Model “T” Ford, you could have any colour you wanted as long as it was black!
I don’t bother telling them so, but I saw cougar in New Brunswick at least 25 years before “they” – the official know-it-all’s – “discovered” them there!
(Less than an hour ago our son, Phil, phoned to wish me a happy Father’s Day – I’m writing this on Monday, June 21 – and then asked about my physical state. After saying I have improved about 75% in regard to the arthritis, and had been to the range last week for the first time this year, I shared the basic contents of this blog. He then told me that he saw what could only have been a wolf in one of his recent outdoor recreational adventures at a Conservation Area about an hour south of here. From first impressions he thought it might have been a German Shepard dog crossing the road and expected the owner to be following, then realised it was wild and likely a wolf! A mature male German Shepard is usually between 75 and 90 lbs. A big “eastern coyote” might attain 35 -50 lbs, and a so-called “Eastern Wolf” about the size of a German Shepard. A mature male Grey Wolf, on the other hand, is usually a bit taller and can attain 100 – 125 lbs. One that has not attained full maturity, out on its own, could very well be significantly less than 100 lbs. Phil was a hunter with me on the bull moose kill in the far north of Ontario, and has hunted on his own in widely different ecosystems in Eastern Canada and Africa, so he is not inexperienced in his assessment of what he witnessed. That would have been at least an hour south of here.)
So, is it just possible that the Grey Wolf has migrated into Southern Ontario with a few altered genes and behaviour that fits their “new” environmental realities, and that we have cougar in our province?
I have zero doubts on both accounts. After all, moose have been shot within the city limits of Oshawa! Oshawa is the headquarters for General Motors and on the shoreline of Lake Ontario!
As to the so-called “Algonquin Wolf”, that’s now listed as an “endangered species” in Ontario, and off-limits for hunting: I along with many others seriously doubt its “pure bred” or “hybrid” image of an endangered wolf species! The term used by Rutledge is “hybrid”, like a hybrid horse? A hybrid horse is the result of two dissimilar horses, a male and a female, being forced together in the same stall or enclosure, or a mare artificially receiving the semen of a particular stud! Is that how the “Algonquin Wolf” came about? No! It was likely the result of two “dogs” doing what comes naturally, and it doesn’t really matter what neighbourhood they came from!
< When I did a search for a photo of an Eastern Wolf, this was one prime example. Then, when I did a search for a photo of an “Algonquin Wolf”, one guess is all you get! This “dog” is significantly smaller than what I witnessed of the two that crossed southern highways in front of my vehicles in widely separate locations and times!
If you asked your teenagers “what have you been up to lately?”, I wonder what their answers might be if they told the truth? Similarly, if wolves could talk, and you asked them what they’ve been up to lately… what stories could they tell us! Not pretty ones, no doubt! Many humans tend to make wild animals superior to themselves, and idealise them!
But certain types seem fully capable of making “silk purses out of sows ears”, especially if they have an office in Ottawa!
By the way – the other Provinces and Territories, plus the States that border Ontario, and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec totally disagree with the MNRF of Ontario, and tell them to get back to real science! The decision to protect the so-called “Algonquin Wolf” is based entirely on emotion, the control of one prejudiced wildlife biologist in the MNRF, vested interests with lots of money, and VERY POOR judgement!
Til the next when we discuss domestic dogs gone wild, bobcats and feral hogs.