|Howling in the Darkness: Are There Any Wolves Left in Maine?|
|Sunday, 23 October 2011 00:00 | Written by Rich Bard | Blog Entry|
Are there wolves hiding in the vast forests of Maine? Debate over this question has raged for decades. One side points to numerous sightings and people who hear them howling in the night. The other side argues that (with a single exception back in 1996), there has been no conclusive evidence to prove they are here. Now, the Wolf Inquiry Project is setting out to see if they can find that proof. How? They'll simply ask the wolves.
Trained volunteers are fanning out across the northern part of the state, asking, in a sense, for any wolves out there to reveal themselves. Every wolf relishes a good howl. They howl when their pack is separated. They howl when they are reunited. They howl when they hear coyotes yipping. They howl in response to police sirens, recordings of other wolves howling, and even a poor imitation of a howl by a bleary-eyed biologist driving deserted roads in the middle of the night (as I used to do when I worked with Mexican wolves in Arizona a few years back).
In this case, volunteers will blast a pre-recorded wolf howl into the night, then record whatever responds. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between wolf and coyote song, but just to be sure, any responses they get will be analyzed by computer to determine if the howl came from a wolf.
If the Wolf Inquiry Project is able to prove that wolves are here, that information would likely be used to pressure the government into stepping up protection and recovery efforts for this endangered species. I don't want to even begin to speculate on the tsunami of controversy that would go along with proof of wolves in Maine. I'll just say that I've lived in wolf country and I've lived in big cities. Personally, I've had better luck getting along with the neighbors who howl at the moon.
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