With the probable wolf stories floating around Illinois for the past month, I have received a good many photos and stories.
Three of them made me look closely, including this one roaming a neighborhood in Oak Forest sent by Michael Wyatt.
However, all three (different animals) appear to be coyotes or hybrids.
First I checked the site (click here) recommended by Wisconsin wolf specialist Adrian Wydeven to help differentiate wolves, dogs, coyotes and wolf-dog hybrids.
Then I checked all three with a naturalist.
This is the one that really made me look. It came from David Ernstmeyer in Beach Park.
For that matter so did this one in Plainfiled, sent by Dennis who said his father took the photos last winter.
That he held the photos for more than a year is a good example of people being afraid to cry wolf. I think that is changing.
At least for me, there's been a big shift in Chicago outdoors. I stopped thinking every wolf or cougar report I received came from either a crackpot or an urban person with no concept of wildlife.
In fact, i can just about name the date that my attitude to those reports changed.
On Feb. 17, 2005, a wolf was hit by a vehicle outside of Chain O'Lakes State Park--the first confirmed report in modern times around Chicago outdoors of a wolf--and a fisherman contacted me almost immediately about it.
I should have immediately followed up on the story, but blew it off as a huge coyote.
Our wild world is changing. Many things seem possible.