Wolf shot near Walnut in Illinois?
A large canine that appears to be a wolf has been shot near Walnut in Bureau County according to Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bowman reports that a reader sent him the above photos of an apparent wolf that weighed 140 pounds near Walnut last week.
As we reported Sunday, Clara and Joe Steele of Kewanee reported seeing what they thought was a wolf on Feb. 25 near the Bureau County line.
The Steeles were driving home to Kewanee from Henry along the Bradford blacktop on Feb. 25 and were east of the Tiskilwa blacktop when a group of running deer caught their eye. Then something even more impressive emerged.
“We waited and then across the road came the largest wolf you’ve ever seen,” Steele said. “It was no coyote. It was a big wolf, mostly dark with a bushy tail. It was awesome.”
The Steeles stopped and got a good look at the big canine, which stopped briefly after running into a nearby patch of trees. “My husband is no novice and he said that was a wolf,” Clara Steele said.
Illinois has had at least four confirmed wolves since 2001, including one shot by Randy Worker in 2002 that was within a few miles of where the Steele’s saw their big canine. Another wolf almost certainly had to have passed through Illinois during that same time period.
This is the time of year when young male wolves leave the pack and wander off on their own. Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan all have wolf populations.
Here is the recent history of wild wolves that likely spent time in Illinois.
- 2001—There’s a good chance another timber wolf wandered through Illinois this year. That radio-tagged animal left Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and journeyed more than 500 miles to northeastern Missouri, where it was shot by a hunter who believed he was killing a coyote.
- 2002—The first confirmed wild wolf in Illinois was shot by Randy Worker on Dec. 29, 2002 in Marshall County near Henry (also along the Illinois River). Worker was coyote hunting when he shot the wolf, which was thought to have wandered south out of Wisconsin.
- 2003—A wolf wearing a radio collar placed on it by Wisconsin researchers was killed in Indiana. Most believe this wolf passed through Illinois, even though nobody reported seeing it.
- 2005—The last wild wolf in the Chicago area was killed by a car in Lake County near the Chain O’Lakes State Park on Feb. 17, 2005. That wolf, too, was thought to have wandered south out of Wisconsin.
- 2005—The last confirmed timber wolf in Illinois was killed in December of 2005 in Pike County by Seth Hall, who was hunting coyotes near New Canton. The wolf was confirmed as wild and part of the Great Lakes pack originating in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan.
- 2008—A 145-pound canine shot near Lena on Feb. 19 by a coyote hunter was confirmed as a wolf after initial reports speculated the size of the canine might indicate it was a hybrid. The wolf was confirmed as wild and part of the Great Lakes pack originating in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan. The stomach was empty but there was rabbit hair in the colon, said Glen Kruse of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.