Monday, November 29, 2010

Wolves in Michigan

I finally made good on a promise from an earlier post about updating folks on the status of wolves in Michigan, particularly here in the Lower Peninsula.
Rather than just a blog post, I dedicated an entire (and lengthy) article to the subject. It published this weekend and I encourage you all to check it out by clicking here.
Wolves are here in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, there's about six of them living in a pack in the three northernmost counties of the Lower Peninsula.
The photo here is of one of that pack's pups, captured earlier this summer while MDNRE officials were trying to get the adult wolves to put radio collars on them.
Unfortunately, the adult wolves got away and this pup was too young to be radio collared. But they did snap this photo before letting him on his way.
Look at those eyes on this guy. He looks mad.
Think about what a puppy would do in a situation like this. A domestic dog pup, even if raised wild and caught in the same fashion, would be terrified — his eyes flickering away from the human faces, perhaps a little squirming here and there before complete submission and surrender.
This is not the impression I get from this wolf pup. It looks to me as those he's staring down his captors defiantly, challenging them by locking eye contact.
It's exemplifies why we must remind ourselves that wolves are wild and domestic dogs are not. Wolves are meant to be in the wild, not in our homes.
As much as the species may be an icon for us, and as admired as wolves may be by us dog lovers, we cannot liken wolves to dogs.
Going by research I think is most appropriate, dogs have been domesticated (or co-evolved, the term I prefer) over a period of 140,000 years. Let me repeat that — ONE HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND YEARS.
It's hard to even fathom how much time that is; how many generations of dogs came after the genetic changes brought on via domestication (or co-evolution, I say).
If anyone needs a reminder of the differences between wolves and dogs, check out a recent post that will lead you to an eye-opening television program by PBS.
As a side note here, I want to add that ONE HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND YEARS of dogs being different from wolves makes me particularly suspicious of the popular push for raw food diets right now. If genetic changes caused a dog's physical features and behavior to change, why should we assume dogs are still working with an digestive system identical to a wolves? I just think it's an illogical conclusion to draw.
But I don't want to get you raw food proponents all riled up, so I'll leave it at that.

What's the lesson in all of this, folks? Dog lovers need to stick to owning dogs. Leave wolves where they belong — in the wild.

Wolves in Oakland County?
I have gotten some feedback from the article — the most interesting of which was a message from a Davisburg resident who said he saw a wolf on his 20 acre property.
I haven't called the MDNRE to follow up on this, but my instincts are telling me they won't confirm it — probably that there's no evidence they can use to be sure and that most likely, it was a large coyote.
To the guy's credit, he was rather adamant in saying he knows what a coyote looks like and this wasn't a coyote.
Perhaps I'll give the MDNRE a call and see what they have to say.
As for the article, I was told wolves won't take up shop in Oakland County simply because there's too many roads.
On the other hand, I was also told that the distance between Michigan and Minnesota is only a couple days' walk for a wolf, so is it possible that some lone wolf went a walkin' and passed on through Davisburg? I'd say anything is possible.

Either way, please give my article a read. I worked really hard on it! One more time, here's the link:
Michigan wolf pack surpasses requirement for endangered species, yet they remain on list

Making good on other promises
I promised a video of trimming dog nails and by golly, it's coming.
On Thanksgiving, I spent about an hour trimming my sister's dog's nails with a Dremel tool. Give me a little time to edit the video and that post will be up — my goal is later this week. I'll let you know when it's ready.

1 comment:

  1. Karen,

    A great blog today..and very timely. I can't comment on what was seen in Davisburg, but I would lean to a large coyote. And I found your blog of particular interst because the blog that I will be posting sometime on November 30th is on coyotes--again. And it includes three photos of a large COYOTE with unusual coloring in Brandon Twp. The pointed ears up and tail hanging down are definitive for coyote; I shared the photos with DNRE and they agree--coyote with odd colors. But when I first saw the coyote pictures - photographed near my house by a neighbor/friend two days ago I was surprised. Had I seen it a dusk I would have thought wolf-and I would have been very wrong. Our minds tend to fill in what we think we saw to create the creature--illusions of reality. Jonathan