Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Really Big Foot

I was just over at A Whippoorwill this morning, a blog from, I believe, due northeast of Thomasburg, and I found a wonderful story about a father and daughter and some expert tracking, Nimbaabaa. Included is a photo of a track that puts my little canid track of a day or two ago to shame.

Thomasburg is near the southern edge of the "canis soup" region of Ontario, where the coyotes are big and the wolves are small, and the crossover (hybridization) between them may be extensive. The wolves that hybridize with coyotes (as opposed to killing them, as for example the reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone do) are thought to be a separate and older species, known as either the red wolf (Canis rufus) or the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon). The wolves of Algonquin Park are representatives of the species--the identification of them as separate from Canis lupus is recent and still controversial. Canis lupus (grey wolf, timber wolf) ranges to the north and west, and is thought to hybridize with Canis lycaon at the southern boundaries of its range. Too far from Thomasburg for me to be likely to ever see a track like the one Whippoorwill found. But I do sometimes hear the lower, rounder notes of a wolf howl in the coyote choruses in the night.

Recommended reading:

John and Mary Theberge spent many years studying the wolves of Algonquin Park, and wrote a book, Wolf Country, about the experience, both in its personal and professional/scientific aspects.

Mike Runtz's Howls of August is an account (in words and photographs) of his experiences with the wolves in the park over 25 years.


Anonymous said...

Dean, I am so glad you recommended John & Mary Theberge's book! It is such an excellent read.

Anonymous said...

Ooops! Sorry! I mean, PAMELA!