The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Squirrel
Story Of The Otter
Story Of The Civet
Story Of The Crocodile
Story Of The Sloth
Story Of The Tortoise
Story Of The Ocelot
Story Of The Wolf
Story Of The Badger
Story Of The Hyena
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Story Of The Wolf
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
On numerous occasions I have matched my wits against the cunning of a wolf, and have been defeated oftener than I have been successful. I spent more than a month trying to trap an old gray prairie wolf, the leader of a band that was killing the cattle of a ranchman friend. I used the most modern steel wolf-traps and every dainty bait known to hunters and trap, pers, but all without success. Night after night he uncovered and exposed my traps and continued to slaughter the finest young animals in my friend's herd.
It was not until we had caught his mate in a trap that we were able to catch him off guard. We left the female in the trap by which she had been caught and then planted other traps all around her. The next night the big gray wolf while trying to rescue his mate was caught.
If we exclude some of the breeds of domestic dogs, the wolf is the largest living member of the family; and its reputation for fierceness is well known. It belongs to a group which includes the jackals and the domestic dogs; all the wild species of which are characterized by their powerful teeth and the moderate brush formed by the tail (in which the hair is longer than that of the body). It is found in Europe, Asia and many parts of North America.
Ferocity, craft and cowardice are the well-known traits of the wolf. Although one of the dog tribe, it is held in utter abhorrence by the domesticated dogs. The stronger pursue and destroy it, the weaker fly from it in terror. In the earlier part of English history it is frequently mentioned as a common and dreaded pest. It was finally extirpated in England about 1350, in Scotland about 1600, and was not entirely destroyed in Ireland until the beginning of 1700. It is still found in parts of France, Russia, and the whole of Western Asia.
Wolves inhabit both open country and forests; and although generally found in. pairs, or solitary, they at times, and more especially in winter, associate in large numbers. They wander abroad both in the daytime and at night. Although usually cowardly, the wolf becomes bolder and more daring, stealing its prey by night, when driven by hunger, or when hunting together. Stories of the attacks of wolves, when in packs, upon travelers in Russia are numerous. In the year 1895 no less than 161 persons fell victims to these animals in Russia. A pack of these animals, when hungry, will follow mounted travelers or those in sleighs and will boldly attack them even in the face of firearms. When one of the pack is killed or wounded by a shot, the others stop only long enough to devour his body, and then renew the attack.
In the earlier days of American farming, a couple of these marauders have been known to kill fifteen or sixteen sheep in a single night, simply tearing open their throats without otherwise damaging the carcasses. When the bison existed in countless thousands on the prairies of North America, wolves were in the habit of prowling around the herds for the purpose of preying on sick or wounded individuals and such calves as strayed from the protection of their elders. Frequently wolves might be seen wandering in the midst of a herd of bull bison without attracting the least attention. In general almost any kind of prey is acceptable to the wolf, which does not by any means disdain a meal of carrion. The larger mammals, such as cattle, horses, and the bigger kinds of deer, are generally only attacked when several wolves are associated together ; but in Canada a single wolf will kill the largest male reindeer. Birds always form an acceptable portion of a wolf's diet. When hard pressed by hunger, wolves will eat almost anything they come across, down to mice and frogs, and, it is said, even. buds of trees and lichens.
The lair of the wolf is formed either in a rocky cavern, within the hollow of a fallen trunk, beneath the roots of an overthrown tree, or more rarely in holes in the ground ; such burrows being sometimes dug by the animal itself. A dense thicket will also, not unfrequently serve as a hiding-place. The ordinary cry of the wolf is a loud and prolonged howl. The amount of noise that a single wolf is capable of producing is simply astonishing; and many amusing episodes of camp lore owe their origin to this fact. More than one lone traveler has hastily taken to a tree, and remained in the inhospitable shelter of its branches for an entire night, believing himself surrounded by a pack of at least fifty fierce and hungry wolves, when in reality there was but one, and (as its tracks afterwards proved) that was on the further side of a lake, a couple of miles away.
The endurance of the wolf's gallop has become proverbial. When pursued by wolves, deer make for the nearest water, in which they have a chance to escape, being able to swim much faster than their enemies. Should the river or lake be narrow, the deer generally swim either up or down, seldom straight across; frequently landing, after a detour, on the same side in which they entered the water. By this means the wolves are puzzled and put off the scent. If there are thick weeds or bush along the shore, the deer frequently sinks his body under water, so that no part will appear above the surface but his head, and by this means is enabled to evade the cunning of his pursuers. The wolf displays remarkable caution in avoiding all kinds of traps set for his destruction; and when he is caught will frequently feign death in in the hope of being able to escape.