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Is there another wolf in Illinois?

February 06, 2008 at 09:46 AM

The Illinois River has attracted a wolf before.

And now Chicago Sun-Times outdoor writer Dale Bowman reports that there may be another wolf sighting along the Illinois River.

Meanwhile in Moline, continued sightings of what some claim is a wolf had the city council pondering hiring a trapper to snare the animal. Click here to read more from the Quad City Times about the Moline canine. Click here to read an earlier story about the Quad Cities wolf.

According to the Quad City Times, “While officials have not been able to confirm that a wolf is in Moline, enough residents have voiced concern to get the attention of Mayor Don Welvaert and Moline aldermen.” Here’s more from the Feb. 5, 2008 story:

“Welvaert said he and council members have received reports from residents claiming to have spotted a wolf. Welvaert has received two reports.

‘We’ve had several citizens complain about seeing wolves and supposed damage by wolves that coyotes could not do, and the perception is wolves are out there,’ Welvaert said. ‘I think we owe it to the citizens of Moline to do something to at least calm the fears.’

But at last night’s meeting, Moline aldermen decided not to spend money to try to trap Moline’s mystery canine. According to a story in the Quad City Times:

“City administrator Lew Steinbrecher said wolves are an endangered species protected by the federal government. To get a permit, officials would have to provide the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed evidence that there actually are wolves in the city and prove the animals are a threat to the community.

Ald. Dorothy Armstrong, 6th Ward, said she had a conversation with a representative from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources who said it was “highly unlikely” it was a wolf that killed a deer found recently in a Moline neighborhood.”

Thankfully, fear and loathing is much less prevalent in regards to the Chicago area sighting. In today’s column, Bowman writes:

“A fishing friend put me in contact with a Chicago businessman who saw what he believed to be a wolf several weeks ago near his second home along the Upper Illinois River Valley.

That’s as specific as I can be because the businessman is worried that somebody might try to hunt it down.

‘I can’t tell you for sure it is [a wolf],’ he said Tuesday. ‘I don’t know if he lives here. I didn’t track him.’

But he mentioned it to neighbors the next day, and one of them said, ‘Thank God somebody else saw it.’

Two nearby residents reported seeing it.

The storyteller is an experienced outdoors person who has seen wild wolves in Yellowstone and regularly sees coyotes, gray foxes and red foxes.”

Click here to read Bowman’s entire column.

Was it a wolf? Is the Moline canine a wolf? Possibly. If so they would join at least five other wolves thought to passed through Illinois in the past decade. 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 was killed in Indiana that was wearing a radio collar placed on it by Wisconsin researchers. 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 orginating in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan.

Will we soon be able to add another entry to this list? Time will tell. But hunters should be aware that timber wolves are a protected species in Illinois.


Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

A wolf ran in front of my car just north of the 3rd and County Line Road intersection in Hinsdale, IL.  I have seen foxes and coyotes before in my neighborhood but this was no coyote. This was one HUGE animal.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/24 at 12:42 AM

Im a hunter and have seen a lot of coyotes over the years (some up close and personal). tonight on my way from Warrenville to S. Elgin I saw what I thought were 2 coyotes running in a field. When they crossed Roosevelt rd. just past Fabyan pkwy and into an open field, I saw there were 4 very, very large coyotes (not). I made a fawn in distress call to peak there interest and they all stopped to look. There is not doubt in my mind that judgeing by there size that they were wolves. I only wonder if these are the wolves from up in lake county.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/06 at 09:01 PM

My next door neighbor’s dog was taken 2 nights ago by what her husband thought was a wolf.  We have a lot of coyotes here (near Wauconda) and this was too large to be a coyote.  The dog that was taken weighed at least 20 lbs - and whatever got it was silent.  Not like the coyotes who always “celebrate” a kill with some loud yelping and barking.  We’re used to that sound.  Maybe a wolf?  Lake County, IL has been notified.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/10 at 04:37 PM

Sunday morning Jan.4th 2009 my husband and I spotted a Wolf crossing the road in a residential area of Aurora,IL. Another couple in this neighborhood also saw it running between backyards .Definitely not a coyote . Can anyone else confirm a sighting in this area ?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/05 at 09:37 PM

On Jan. 11, 2009, my parents spotted a wolf in their front yard just North of Rockford, on the way to Rockton, IL. They live on the Rock River, and their dog was barking up a storm; they went to the window and saw what they said was definitely *not* a coyote. They were sure it was a wolf. The next day, their neighbor said a wolf crossed the road in front of his car. They asked around and found out there is a wolf pack in mid-Wisconsin; perhaps it wandered down from there.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/16 at 06:56 PM

On Jan 22, 2009 I saw a wolf in our back yard, which butts up to the Forest Preserve,  around 2P.M. It appeared to be following a group of deer that was hanging out there about 5 minutes earlier but left when something spooked them. I could not figure out what spooked them then I saw him. Maybe it was him?  Told my neighbor about it, and he said he saw it, a few days prior to my sighting, in the Forest Preserve field that is next to Rollins Road.(This field is about 1 mile from my house and is the same forest preserve. I live in Ingleside Il. I see coyotes and fox quite often and it was not one of these. This thing was huge.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/26 at 10:10 AM

This afternoon at 1pm I saw 2 very large animals in my yard.  I am in Libertyville along the Des Plaines river.  I have seen many coyotes and fox in my yard but these were around 80-100 lb animals, larger then my Labrador.  I examined the tracks and they resembled those of a large dog.  I have determined that I saw 2 wolves.  They were absolutely not dogs or coyotes!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/26 at 03:59 PM

I saw a pair of wolves a couple of weeks ago.  It was after midnight, and they were acting playfully, like youngsters, while crossing the road in front of my car.  I stopped and rolled the window down to get a better look.  They were beautiful, and totally oblivious to my presence.  Their coloring was very light and their coats were rather “fluffy.”  I thought for a while that a pair of Samoyed-Shepherd? mixes had escaped their home for a romp in the woods (no collars could be seen).  Then I saw a single wolf a couple of nights later.  It looked somewhat older and stopped when it saw me and looked at me.  I went about my business of unloading my car.  It walked back in the direction it had come from and stopped under a street light and looked back at me, and then went on.  Its gaze was steady and calm, and I wasn’t frightened in the least.  There was nothing “dog-like” in its demeanor.  There was no tail wagging or slinking away, nor was there any threatening appearance.  I’ve seen tons of coyotes, and seen wolves in a local zoo.  This was definitely wolves.  I live in a very nice suburb of Chicago.  It has thick woods everywhere, and everyone but me goes to sleep at 9 p.m.  Lucky me!  I used to live in Aurora.  Lots of coyotes - lots of deer.  Here I see not so many coyotes - not so many deer.  Coincidence?  I think not.  They’re here, folks, and doing their job of keeping the deer population in check.  Don’t want to give anyone my exact location, because I don’t want them hunted and killed!!!  (Likely by another goofball who “thought he was shooting a coyote”.)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/27 at 10:34 AM

Tonite I saw TWO large animals (larger than a fox and coyote) in my subdivision just off of plainfild and countyline road in Burr Ridge. I went on the internet to try and find out the species…Both animals were not red, but some white or grey and black colorings. I have a small dog and she alerted me while looking outside the window. I couldn’t belive how large they were and that there was more than one. Could I have seen a Mexican Wolf or a Lone Wolf? I know I have to be careful with my small pet but if I am with her, will these animals still attack? What if I see them when I am alone? What do I do?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/09 at 09:29 PM

A few weeks ago I observed fresh canid tracks in the snow passing through our property in Arlington Heights.  They caught my attention because they were enormous when compared to the tracks of my mid-sized dog or any other tracks I’ve seen in the 13 years I’ve lived there.  I measured their width at 4 inches on average- some tending towards 3-1/2 inches and some splayed out larger than 4 inches.  I observed a four-print track pattern where the animal was clearly loping and leaped over some piled snow.  Also a two-print track pattern where the animal was apparently moving more slowly behind a tree.  Also some very clear tracks where the animal apparently paused by our back gate where the snow was in better shape to leave crisp tracks.  There was also a small patch of sprayish scat amongst the tracks where it was at a slow or paused pace.  Feasibly I was looking at two sets of tracks when I thought about it afterwards.  I showed the tracks to my wife and she joked they looked like wolf tracks.  I was thinking coyote, but they sure looked awfully large to me and wolf was in the back of my mind also, although it seemed ridiculous to think so.  Eventually I looked into track identification and discoverd that the tracks really were considerably too large to be coyote tracks!  And dogs don’t run in the two-print track pattern, according to what I read.  Also, the tracks came alone through an easement area into our property and apparently crossed the street away from the sidewalk, which rules out a dog being walked.  Stray dogs are almost non-existent in our area.  If it was a stray dog, it was absolutely huge and leaves tracks in a wolf-like pattern.  If it was a “coyote”, it’s feet were much larger than coyotes’ feet are supposed to be.  I tremendously regret not taking some photos and getting a scat sample before the snow melted.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/11 at 02:53 PM

I saw a wolf in Prestbury (between Aurora and Sugar Grove) last Fall (2009), and again Monday night, March 1st.  Last Fall it was chasing a dog through the woods; March 1st it was 30 feet away from me on a sidewalk!  It was not scared, and only walked away.  I followed it for a few blocks but then let it go.

My neighbors didn’t believe it was a wolf, but I’ve seen many in the mountains of California and Colorado and I would not misread a coyote as a wolf as they suggested.

I saw the wolf again tonight (March 29) at 10:15pm.

I was sitting in a lawn chair at the end of my driveway waiting for my son’s dog to take a squat when I saw it cross the street a half block away.  It walked through a shadow, but the streetlight lit up the street on the other side of it and I had a great silhouette.

I took the dog inside very quietly, then grabbed a ball bat and went back out.  I stood at the end of my driveway for about 15 minutes, then saw it come out of the shadows between two houses across the street.

I moved back to a shadow right near my front door (I ain’t no dummy) and watched.  It came under the streetlight directly across the street from my house and sniffed around; I’m sure it was smelling my son’s dog’s pee.  Then she peed.  She walked around constantly checking over her shoulder.  At one point I shifted weight and stepped on a dry leaf and she looked right at me, but I was invisible.

I was able to take a couple pics with my cell phone, but they are pretty much worthless.

I don’t want to see the thing needlessly killed, but I don’t want to lose a dog (or my arm) to it.  I’m open to suggestions before I take action…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/29 at 11:14 PM

I swear on my life I saw a few wolves one night about two years ago. I was at a friends house for her birthday party. Her house is right next to a huge field and a big chain of forest preserves; the only thing separating them is a small chain link fence. So we were sitting in her hot tub thats about 10 or 15 feet away from the fence. It was dark outside, and one of our friends said “Hey look, a bunch of deer!” We all looked closer, but then we soon realized they were some big dogs. After seeing them a little closer, they resembled wolves. Fluffy, grey/brown colored, and huge. Coyotes are everywhere around here, but there was NO way these were coyotes. There were maybe 4 or 5 of them. They eventually started walking in our direction towards the houses. We of course were scared out of our minds and sat as quietly as we could. Eventually, they were sort of out of view in someone elses back yard area. But all of a sudden, all 4-5 of them came running right along the fence about 10 feet away from us. These were HUGE. Unmistakably wolves in my mind. But I have never heard a report of a wolf around these parts, let alone a small pack of them. We are surrounded by about 30, maybe more forest preserves in the surrounding towns of mine, so maybe they were passing through? Could this have been possible?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/01 at 02:35 AM

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