Chicago Sun-Times
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Wild Saturday

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Wolves are protected in Illinois.

(Consider this posting the start of something: Saturday mornings as time for wild things on Stray Casts.)

Of the three wild wolves confirmed in modern Illinois, two were killed by coyote hunters. The hunters were not prosecuted for their accidental shootings (Illinois was not supposed have wolves).

Coyote hunter Randy Worker killed the first confirmed wild wolf in modern Illinois on Dec. 29, 2002 in Marshall County near the Illinois River.

Young coyote hunter Seth Hall surprised himself when he shot a wild wolf in December 2005 in Pike County. That's the last confirmed wild wolf in Illinois.

The only confirmed wild wolf in the Chicago in modern times was hit by a car near Chain O'Lakes State Park on Feb. 17, 2005.

Why do I revisit the history of wolves in Illinois?

On Tuesday, I listened to a wolf story from somebody experienced in the outdoors who didn't want it out specifically for fear somebody would come hunting it. That's why I had to use the vague term, ``the Upper Illinois River Valley,'' as site of the possible wolf sighting.

And he had a legitimate fear. I had driven every mile of road along the Illinois River, on both sides, in the county where he saw it while looking for possible places to hunt deer and turkey. If I had done that kind of looking for hunting spots, there are others even more diligent than me.

Was it a wolf? We probably will never know unless it is hit by a car or shot accidentally by a coyote hunter.

A reader in northwestern Illinois sent a note Wednesday morning that he was eastbound on Route 64 near Lanark when they ``saw a wolf or wolf hybrid running very fast into an open field.''

By sight, it is impossible to tell a wolf from a wolf hybrid. That's the crux of the problem in identifying live wolves.

All the same, he concluded, ``It was a good sight on the snow and the cornfield to see this wolf coming across our path.''

One I wish I live long enough to see in Illinois.

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11 Comments

In the past couple of weeks, there was a reported wolf sighting in the Moline area. There are packs of wolves in Wisconsin near Necedah along I-39. It will be interesting to see how far South the wolves in Wisconsin establish ranges.
I don't know if there are areas large enough to support populations of wolves (other than the Shawnee National Forest) and perhaps along the bottoms of the Mississippi and the Ilinois river.

Bobcat sightings have occured in Waterfall Glenn Forest Preserve in Dupage County.

I have heard recent (Feb 20, 2008) word of mouth that residents have seen a "wolf" in Mokena. Has anyone heard any details or investigated?

Thanks

Boy that one's news to me. Was it by somebody who knows the difference from a big coyote?

they indicated they knew the difference, but by some of the descriptions of behavior it sounds more like a hybrid or misidentified dog. the strange thing is that apparently more than a handful of people have said they have seen it

The bobcat in WG was seen once sitting on the picnic table at the ranger residence. Sign is pretty evident.

Replying to the Mokena wolf story. I near 179th and Wilcook rd. I see coyotes every night, though some are fairly large at, but not over, 55lbs (I have a rottweiler for weight comparision). They are not a wolf though. One day however, approximately 7 months ago, I definately saw a lone timber wolf take down a deer by itself, and the weird thing is that I have never seen deer before in my immediate backyard where this occured (everywhere else though)one other neighbor also witnessed this incident. I have never seen one of the coyotes do this (even though it appears as the coyotes have now been hanging in packs of 5-6, I know its mating season now but this has been going on for a while. When an ambulance Drives by sirens blazing the coyotes always give a yelp, but every so often you can hear a howl (not recently though). One a side note I did see my first bobcat here about a month ago!!

I was driving from Bloomington to Macomb in the summer of 2006 when I saw my first wolf. We were on 136 heading west, near the Illinois River. I looked out the window to the left (south) and spotted a wolf that was pure white, I stared at it for a good 10-15 seconds from about 100 yards. It was half-way up a hill in a grassy field in front of a group of trees, about 50 yards off of the eastbound lane. Physically it was identical to grey wolves, however its coat was pure white, even the tail. I know what your thinking, "riiiiiiiight, then he saw a leprechaun." But I'm not making this up, I still to this day feel like I hallucinated because why would there be a white wolf in Illinois? (for reference, I have never hallucinated or had any mental problems whatsoever.) But I grew up in the country around all kinds of dogs, I KNOW this was not a dog and I KNOW it was not a coyote. What's more interesting is when I saw it the first thing I thought was "man, that thing is on the prowl." It's head was lowered and it was looking the way we were driving. When we cleared the treeline that it was by there were about 20 cows on the other side. I wanted to go back and see if any farmers lost cattle that weekend but I wouldn't even know how to go about finding that out. I recently have been looking in to this, checking out many pictures and stories about wolves and dogs that resemble them so that I could say "ya, that could have been an eskimo husky or something" but I have only strengthened my belief in what I saw that day. I have only told a few people that I'm close with who know that I'm not crazy and I wouldn't make something like that up. I came across this page and thought I would share my story with you all. I have an excellent memory when it comes to things like this and can still picture it vividly. If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me: trevor0701@yahoo.com, thanks for reading!

Hi,
I was just sitting in my dining room a few hours ago and out in my yard I swear I saw a timber wolf! I live in Dupage county pretty close to waterfall glen forest preserve. I know that the Illinois DNR has confirmed that there is a pair of bobcats living there but I havent heard about timber wolves. I've seen many coyotes and this was just way to big to be a coyote. I have a great dane and this animal was about her height, and very muscular! It also had a very beautiful coat, not dirty and scraggly looking like many of the coyotes I've seen in the past. I am curious if anyone else has had any sightings in this area of these beautiful animals. Thanks!

Okay, it was evening and I think I saw a bobcat in Oswego, IL. I was looking at what I thought was a large housecat with spots, long legs and a striped tail. It was just walking along the front of townhouses, very quietly and timidly but then I realized it was way too tall to be an ordinary housecat so I Googled "bobcat" and learned that it is entirely possible that it was indeed a lynx or bobcat. My daughter and neighbor also saw it and I wondered if anyone else has seen one in this area?

Leanne, I have no idea if what you saw was a bobcat. However, it is within the realm of possibility. Bobcats are well documented as far into the suburban areas of DuPage County and even into Cook County in the Palos area.

Sighted a bobcat this morning in the Blackwell Forest preserve that abuts our yard. We've lived here for over 25 years and it's the first sighting for us. Lots of deer and coyote wander through the yard, but never a bobcat.

Several months ago I saw a bobcat near 179th street & Rt 6 in Orland Park. The sighting was very brief but I'm sure of what I saw. I drive through that area often but haven't seen it since. It was standing on a log. I could see its tawny color, tufted ears & bobtail. It's exciting that these animals are returning to the area. I hope people can respect that.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on February 9, 2008 6:55 AM.

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