Are giant wolves fact or fiction?

wolf bearing teethWolves remain in the news as ranchers near Wenatchee have fenced in their cattle as a precaution. This follows reports of wolves feeding on elk carcasses nearby and, in general, expanding their range around Washington. Read the Wenatchee World article.

Photos of giant wolves have peppered social media sites recently, “trophy shots” of animals allegedly hunted down in Idaho and British Columbia. Check out the huge wolf on this blog entry, where the writer asks, “Can wolves really get that big?”

I wondered the same thing. So I contacted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and asked. Donny Martorello, carnivore manager for the state, said, “In Washington the average size for male and female wolves based on our captures is 94 and 72 pounds.”

Martorello couldn’t say for certain if the photo in our link was altered or not, but he said the Internet photos he’d tracked to the source “were either doctored or misrepresented, so I would urge caution with putting too much credibility on Internet photos.”

I also asked the department if it could identify a paw print I photographed July 4, 2012, atop a ridge south of Cle Elum. This was a relatively short hike from the rural Little Peoh Point community. I thought the print was perhaps from a large canine, bigger than a coyote, and my imagination pictured a wolf stalking an elk.

Then again, it could be a cougar print, for all I know. I grew up in east Bellevue, a kid from the suburbs!

No response yet from Fish and Wildlife.

A Little Peoh Point resident saw what he believes was a grey wolf on his property early on July 8. If it was in fact a wolf, it could be significant, indicating their presence south of Interstate 90. The more-northerly Teanaway Pack roams the area northeast of Cle Elum. Conservation Northwest currently cites no known wolf packs south of I-90.

pruners next to footprints Here’s my photo, which includes a pair of pruners I provided for scale, with the unknown print on the left and what I believe is an elk hoofprint at the right – it's too large for a deer.

But again, what’s a kid from the suburbs know?

Jim Berkley

04/19/2013 02:35 PM

Hey there, Little Red Riding Hood, you sure are lookin' good. You're everything that a big bad wolf could want...

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