Does dangerous coywolf roam Wisconsin?
An item from The Associated Press on our latest news blog today says the DNR is urging deer hunters, who will start their traditional hunt Saturday, to watch for signs of a cougar roaming west-central and northern Wisconsin.
Trail cameras have caught photos of the animal three times in the past month. The last came Nov. 8 near the Rusk-Taylor county line. Biologists believe the cougar might be in the Flambeau State Forest or Price County.
The DNR asks anyone who sees the cougar or its tracks to contact the nearest DNR office or file a report through the agency's online rare mammal observation form.
The cougar isn’t the only predator roaming the woods. Many bears are out there. The Lakeland Times of Minocqua reports that coyotes now live in every county, as well as the cities of Madison and Milwaukee. Our coyote population is at an all-time high, between 40,000 and 50,000.
Wolves may number more than 1,000.
The Lakeland Times also suggests, in a story Nov. 4, that a wolf-coyote hybrid known as a coywolf might be prowling Wisconsin. It would be almost twice as large as a coyote but smaller than a gray wolf. It would feed on deer instead of small mammals.
“The hybrid retains the coyotes’ tolerance of people and urban areas, making encroachment on human environments more likely,” the newspaper reported. “Coywolves also display stronger pack behavior, especially in hunting, are more aggressive than regular coyotes and seem to be more intelligent.”
While some skeptics still believe a coywolf is an urban legend, the Lakeland Times says DNA studies have confirmed the hybridization.
You can read more about the Lakeland Times report by clicking here.
Do any of these predators pose dangers for hunters? I’m not sure. I know I wouldn’t want to get between a sow bear and her cubs. Or be surrounded by a hungry pack of wolves.
I don’t deer hunt. But if I did, I’d be keeping my eyes peeled.
Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow him on Twitter or