Howling in the Darkness: Are There Any Wolves Left in Maine? E-mail
Sunday, 23 October 2011 00:00  |  Written by Rich Bard | Blog Entry

Howling Wolf photo by Suzie TAre 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.

Additional resources:
Mom's Wisdom Could Save the Mexican Wolves
The Government's Bold Decision in Favor of Mexican Wolves
Help Give Mexican Gray Wolves a Second Chance—They Won’t Have a Third

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Comments (33)add
Written by Rich Bard , February 15, 2013
Kevin C.,
I think in this case you are right to follow your skeptical instincts about a white wolf. I couldn't easily find the information, but I'm pretty sure that wild white wolves are not found anywhere near New England. I've only heard of the typical grizzle-colored wolves in eastern Canada, which is where any wild wolf in Maine would have to come from. A striking white wolf migrating through Maine would surely be noticed before it got into the I-95 corrdior, so my guess is that you saw a dog. There is always the possibility that it was a pet wolf, or a wolf-dog hybrid that escaped. I haven't heard other reports of this animal, but I'll keep my ears open. Please let me know if you see it again - and keep your camera handy!!
Rich
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Written by Kevin C. , February 13, 2013
I am so glad I came across this website. While driving on I95 south, I spotted an animal that really got my attention and started to do research and stumbled upon this site. I drive up and down 95 a lot and am always on the lookout for wildlife, especially when I get north of Fairfield, Waterville, etc. As I was on 95 south somewhere between Bangor and Waterville. It was mostly pine trees and then a slight clearing and I surprisingly saw a canine with a really thick, pure white coat. I have seen coyotes - much thicker and taller.

I am a dog enthusiast and am not ignorant to the fact that there are breeds that look wolf like. But I got a really good look at it, went as slow as I could on the highway, and my first thought was holy $&$, is that a wolf?! The color of the coat really threw me off. It was pure white. I looked all around it and did not see any humans around at all. The wolf features were all there, ears, narrow snoot, and the gait struck me too and the way it carried itself. It just did not seem like a domestic dog out for a stroll or a runaway. It was more of a strut of a wild animal.

Geez, I really wish I could have stopped and took pictures because at this point, I am doubting myself. But looking at images of white wolves, it is spot on what I saw.

I stopped off to get gas soon after and asked the cashier and she said that they do see wolves up there. Interesting. I did go to the fish and game Maine website and they do mention the grey wolf and the colors can vary, including pure white.

Has there been any claims of sightings of white wolves in Maine?

Am I saying I definitely saw a white wolf? I can't say I am 100% sure. But when I see things, my first instinct is to find ways to disprove, but my gut is telling me that was not a dog on the loose. I am torn though. Either way, I am very much interested in whether it is proven that wolves are in Maine!

Thank you for an outlet to tell my story and question.
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Written by Sean Cyr , September 15, 2012
I have lived all over Maine hunted a fished mostly in Bangor area but have lived in Caribou for three years an in portland for two and people Iv known all my life have never seen a wolf except in a cage or tv or just pictures I have seen three wolves in northern Maine an two in the 50 mile range from Portland an only seen four Bears so iv seen more wolves in Maine than bears thats just my luck I know there are more Black Bears but thats the truth of it an I belive I have seen one in Bucksport some years ago about 10 if correct I would like to know who is protecting them if nobody else has seen them an I dont hunt Big Game anymore an will B excited to know whats going on an latest sightings
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Written by Sean Cyr , September 15, 2012
I do not understand some people I know wolves have always been here they never left an a few days ago I saw some DOUCHE BAG!!!!!! with a sticker on his back window of his crappy suv the sticker had a picture of a wolf with a circle and a line threw it an said "KILL MAINE WOLVES" I was pissed he happend to be in front of me going south on 95 an we both took the same exit in newport so when he happened to pull into the Mobil station I told him it was wrong to be such an A-- H--- im 35 he is atleast 50 an he said "A GOOD WOLF IS A DEAD WOLF" with all I could do not to punch him in his friggen eye we had words of many meanings an I left what is the problum with wolves in Maine weve had no problums they were here FIRST sorry people just wildlife dosnt have the abillity to speak nore should some Humans
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Written by Rich Bard , July 26, 2012
Dick - Thanks for the great story!
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Written by Dick Warbler , July 09, 2012
It was a dark and stormy night when I staggered out of my log cabin, overlooking Chessacoonkquink pond in Northwest Maine. The black flies were particularly vicious that year- flavoring particles to steep my story- fleshy goodness. I stretched on the front porch and started to a heavy rustling in the forest. Bruce? A dark, furry muzzle emerged from the brush. Two cold, dead, yellow-limey, eyes beheld me. This was a wolf- there is no doubt in my mind. In fact, this same wolf had eviscerated my companion squirrel- Bruce- two months past.

Bruce held a special place in my satchel, filled with tasty, salted-nuts for his delight. We would traverse the forest, seeking the Red Warbler and Bushtits for my taxidermy business. I lament his tragic death, but cherish his remaining nuts, which I hot-glue-gunned to the base of my totem. I taxidermed my friend.

Upon seeing a wolf that night, November 17th, 1998, the hair on the back of my neck arosened. Needless to say, I was terrified- he lifted one leg and marked his territory, leading me to conclude that he was in estrous. His vaporous breath assailed my nostrils, with the tang of carcass. I felt a rumbling inside- my intestines gurgled- and a great howl emerged from my man-lips. By the spirit of Xanuoau, I will avenge you Bruce! AHyuh. The tea kettle screeched out and spooked the wolf- into the forest primeval.

MAINE IS RIFE WITH THEIR KIND.

-lOVE DICK
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Written by Rich P. , February 04, 2012
Back some years ago, I saw a Wolf in the woods near the border, North of Jackman, and west of route 201. It was standing over an old deer carcass, 25 feet off an old logging road. I had just stopped the Bronco I was driving, to decide whether to keep going as it looked like the road was ending. The window was down and as I turned my head to the left there it was staring at me. I've seen live wolves and live coyotes, and I know this was NO coyote. My neighbor use to trap coyotes and there were a few that were up to 50 lbs. This one I saw was for sure 75 to 80lbs. I had a German Shepherd at the time that weighed 75lbs. and the Wolf there looked definately a bit bigger than my dog, if not the same weight at least. How it got there I don't know for sure (though Canada could have produced a disperser, it), but I know I saw a Wolf and I will never forget it.
Maine needs Wolves, to put things in the Maine woods back in order!
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Written by dereck stetson , November 24, 2011
I dont know about wolves in southern maine because i live in northern maine about 30 miles north of houlton and mabe two miles from the border but every night i hear a pack of 3 to 4 howling i know the diffrence between the song of a wolf and a coyote me being an avid hunter i can also tell the diffrence between the tracks ive tracked em as far as the border and thats were my trail has to end but on the us side of the border there ranging about 2 miles on our side and jump back and forth just sayin ther are here just dont wanna be seen yet
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Written by matt , August 04, 2011
I have woods in my backyard and I heard a wolf howling all night I youtubed wolf howls right when I heard it and it was the exact noise. This was about 2-3to months ago. Then a few days after that I was driving on 95 in west Warwick and I saw a big dog looking animal bolt across the highway. It looked like a dog on steroids
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Written by paul donahue , May 10, 2011
I SAW A WOLF NOT COYOTE I WAS ON 95 NORTH IN BETWEEN LINCOLN AND OLD TOWN in was on a ledge it was a wolf never saw one in Maine before that. I am from the Island Fall's area and have had friends tell me they saw them also they are there but in few and hiding.
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Written by Rich Bard , February 23, 2011
Ane,
It isn't likely that you saw a wild wolf. More likely possibilities are a large coyote, a dog, or someone's pet wolf hybrid that was loose. If you'd like to talk to someone about it, call the local office of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at 207-434-5927. Thanks!
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Written by Ane , February 22, 2011
Hi
I think two wolves just crossed the road we were driving on (2-22-11) here on Mount desert Island. Possible?
My Husband and me are pretty sure they were wolves...do we report this?
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Written by Rich Bard , December 01, 2010
John,
I haven't heard anything about these sightings since our last communication. I'd recommend contacting Wally Jakubas. I'm not sure which regional biologist might be involved, but Wally should know the outcome.
Rich
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Written by John Glowa , November 29, 2010
Rich:
What, if anything came of the Luree Harris sighting and photos. Can you please email them to me or should I ask the dept. for them? Thanks. John Glowa
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Written by Rich Bard , September 17, 2010
Hi Andy,
It's difficult to do any follow up investigation more than a day or so after a sighting, but by all means, contact the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at 207-287-8000. They'll route your call to the appropriate biologist. Thanks for reporting your sighting here!
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Written by Andy Seager , September 16, 2010
I thought I saw a wolf on September 14, 2010 near the Katahdin Trail as it crosses the road on the way to the Roaring Brook trail head from the Togue Pond gate. Specifically, just past the trail head on the way up the hill. The animal head had color variation.
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Written by Rich Bard , September 10, 2010
John,
Luree emailed me some photos that I forwarded to the Regional Wildlife Biologist for that area. The state's lead Mammal Biologist was also informed. They were going to follow up with Luree, but I haven't heard anything since then.

The photos were interesting. I'd say definitely not a pure domestic dog and not a coyote. Based on the behavior of returning to the same field repeatedly and making passes at canada geese, which it doesn't have a realistic chance of catching, this is either an escaped (or released) captive wolf or wolf-dog hybrid, but I'll leave the official designation to the biologists who will investigate personally.

By the way, I'm glad to see that you have revived the Maine Wolf Coalition website!

Rich
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Written by John Glowa , September 09, 2010
Rich:

Did anything come of the report of a possible wolf?

John Glowa
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Written by Rich Bard , August 26, 2010
Luree,
I will contact you separately to find out more information. Thanks for your comment!
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Written by LUREE HARRIS , August 24, 2010
I AM WATCHING WHAT I THINK IS A WOLF. IT IS VERY LARGE. BLACK WITH WHITE IN EARS AND UNDER CHIN. LONG BUSHY TAIL. TAIL IS OUT, NOT CURLED UNDER LIKE A COYOTE. I HAVE SEEN MANY COYOTE. HAVE NEVER SEEN ANY THING LIKE THIS. I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER FOR BANGOR NATURE CLUB AND I HAVE PHOTOS OF THIS. IT IS STAYING WHERE THERE ARE A LOT OF DEER. I SAW 2 EARLY ONE EVENING. BOTH CHARGED AT A DEER AT THE SAME TIME. I HAVE BEEN DOING WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY FOR ABOUT 20 YEARS. I FIND THIS BLACK THING, WHATEVER IT IS, VERY INTERESTING. I HAVE SEEN IT THREE DIFFERENT TIMES.
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Written by Rich Bard , January 12, 2010
Thanks for all your comments. People are always intrigued by the idea of wolves in the Northeast. Watch for my next blog entry, hopefully around Monday Jan. 18, which will look into the idea that the Eastern Coyote is really a wolf-coyote hybrid.
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Written by otis magoun , January 06, 2010
The eastern coyote long ago interbred with the eastern grey wolf. The eastern coyote is and has been more wolf than coyote depending on who interprets the DNA.It is very difficult to pin down DNA to specific specie ratios. However the wolf I saw did not in any way look like a coyote other than it had four legs and the general shape of a large dog. I m not an occasional hunter/fisherman. I have spent most of my life in the woods doing one or the other. I have been less than 3 feet from wolves in canada when they would visit my campsite at night.I spend almost every day in the Baxter area woods from snow out in april to the snow in in december.The animal I saw was not a coyote.To change the subject a little. The political problem you see is that if we designate the eastern coyote a wolf it then falls under federal protection laws. This could then cause them to further increase their numbers and cause more problems for suburban and urban areas.I have seen one wolf in 31 years in maine. I hope to see another. It was a beautiful site to say the least.
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Written by Kira S. , January 04, 2010
Hello everyone!

My name is Kira and I'm quite certain there are wolves(for lack of a better word) in Maine. My reason for believing such a thing as this is because I too have visited Maine and heard the howls of a wolf a couple times during my stay... Now it is possible that this "wolf" is merely a coyote but there are several key factors which point me more to the direction of the wolf. One: The howl of the wolf is deeper than that of the coyote. Two: It's size is indeed greater as well. But there's a lot of confusion going around that these wolves are just large coyotes... Well I have a theory.
Upon researching the possibility of wolves in Maine I came across this research being done. It said that a large eastern coyote was killed for the killings of a farmers lamb stock and scientist then found the DNA strands of the Grey wolves in the mix of the coyote's DNA. They've done over 50 tests on the Coyotes and came across the wolf's DNA in most of the specimen. With that being said, it's highly possible that we're not seeing wolves, but wolf-coyote hybrids which explains the size, deepness of the howl, and the extreme similarity that has been going around.


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Written by Larry Fredrickson , December 10, 2009
On friday dec. 4th at 4:05 am I was woke up by a wolf howling right under my upstairs bedroom window. There was a full moon and a clear night so I was able to see it very clearly. I have seen and heard many coyotes in my back yard and have taken photos of them. This was no coyote. Much too big and the howling was much lower in tone. I don't live in Maine,I live in Rhode Island. The closest wolf sighting that I know of, that was verified by DNA samples [the wolf was shot for killing livestock] was in Mass. last year about 80 miles away. I know what I saw and heard, it was a wolf.
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Written by Mike dumont , December 03, 2009
I just saw a pack of wolves near my house in vassalboro they are beautiful animals they numbered about 6 and like most of you have said i know the difference between coyote and wolves. i wish we could make them more prominent in Maine like maybe move some of Canada wolves to Maine and see what happens.
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Written by Rich Bard , November 11, 2009
Mr. Glowa,
Just to be clear, this blog is a personal project and has nothing to do with my position with the state. I don't (and don't want to) speak for the government in this space. Please feel free to contact me at work if you want to discuss any of these issues officially. My work email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

I'm not sure whether your question is directed at me personally or the Department I work for, but I sincerely hope that I am not guilty of dismissing the possibility of wolves returning to the northeast. That very possibility was one of the reasons I chose Maine when I decided to move back home to the northeast after several years in Arizona. I know what it is like to live and camp among wolves and I hope to have the chance to do it in Maine someday.

I'm glad the Wolf Inquiry Project is out there looking for wolves. I wish I had more time and lived closer to their target areas, so I could help with the project. I also think it's important that groups like the Maine Wolf Coalition and the Coalition to Restore the Eastern Wolf (CREW) are there to be watchdogs, compile information and advocate for the wolves, whether they are here or not.

Keep up the good work on behalf of the wolves and feel free to be in touch.


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Written by John Glowa , November 11, 2009
Mr. Bard:
I founded the Maine Wolf Coalition in 1994, a year after Maine's first known wolf in some 50 years was killed north of Moosehead Lake by a bear hunter from Pennsylvania. It's unfortunate that our state and federal governments continue to spread misinformation about wolves in the northeast and continue to do nothing to protect them. To my knowledge, the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife considers the status of wolves in Maine to be "indeterminate." There is growing evidence that wolves are back in the northeast US and Canada south of the St. Lawrence River. No less than seven documented wolves have been killed in this region since 1993. They include two in Maine, two in Vermont, one in Quebec, one in New York and one in Massachusetts. Most of these animals were gray wolf/eastern wolf hybrids which are 20-30 lbs. larger than the smaller eastern wolf. All of Maine is well within dispersal range of wolves from Canada. Much of Maine is suitable habitat for the establishment of wolf territories. Rather than dismissing the possibility that wolves are recolonizing the northeast, how about trying to find out where the wolves here are coming from and whether or not they are now living and reproducing here?
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Written by Rich Bard , November 08, 2009
Hi Janine,
I'm glad you stumbled across my blog and thought to leave your questions. I can't say much about what you saw - only you know for sure. But I do know that many of our coyotes in Maine look a whole lot like wolves. As for what you heard, that may be easier to figure out. I went to my my favorite source for finding animal sounds, www.findsounds.com and searched for "wolf howl" and "coyote howl." The best and most characteristic of the results are: http://www.rozziland.com/eq/wolf_idl.wav (wolf) and http://nicerweb.com/sketches/s...coyote.wav (coyote). I'm not sure if these will show up as links, so you may have to cut and paste them into your browser.

Notice how the wolf is much deeper and holds one tone for most of the howl. The coyote is higher pitched and includes a lot of yips and yelps. These can vary from individual to individual, and wolf pups sound a lot like coyotes, but they usually have at least one adult howling with them.

I would be interested to hear back after you've listened to the clips. Was it helpful? What do you think you heard after listening to the recordings? Have you seen or heard any other sign of the animal since that first day? If you find any tracks longer than 4 inches, or scat with greater than 1.5 inch diameter, be sure to contact the folks at your regional office of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Sydney.
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Written by Janine Colcord , November 07, 2009
I'm not an expert, just a land owner in Belfast. I found this site this morning after taking my dogs for their morning walk down into our 2nd field, which is enclosed by woods. I saw what I am quite sure is a wolf. We have so many coyotes around here it's not funny, so I have had many encounters with them, but I'm pretty sure this was no coyote! It was beautiful and it stopped and stared at me for a few seconds before running off into the woods. I thought it was long gone so I started back up to the house. Then I heard it barking and howling, so I turned back and listened. I even tried howling back to it. It was an eery, lonely, but beautiful sound. It did not sound at all like the coyotes we hear around here so much. After a couple minutes, it stopped and was gone. I came back up to the house and did a search on the internet to see if there were even wolves in Maine and that's how I found this site.
I live in Belfast, Maine and I hope this helps with your debate. I just wish there was some sort of recording of a wolf howl on the internet to listen to so I could be sure.
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Written by Pam Flowers , September 22, 2009
I was in a van on a road that parallels the Appalachian Trail in Grafton Notch State Park near the Maine New Hampshire state line.
I clearly saw a wolf emerge from the forest, walk slowly along for about two hundred feet behind the vehicle. When we stopped, it stopped and turned sideways, then it ran off into the forest.
I live in Alaska and have seen dozens of wolves in Alaska, Yukon and Nunavut in Canada. This was a wolf. No question.
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Written by Rich Bard , August 03, 2009
Nicole and Otis,
I speak to people all the time who believe they have seen wolves and mountain lions in Maine, both of which are classified as extinct in Maine by the government. I always tell people that I don't know what they saw. Only they do. My understanding of biology tells me that for there to be enough of a large species to be self-supporting, proof of their existence would show up at some rate. Whether through feces, roadkills, hunter kills, photos, verifiable tracks - something!

With that said, it is possible (though unlikely for a number of reasons) for wolves to be moving in from Canada so that there isn't a self-sustaining population in Maine, but rather a number of dispersing individuals wandering around alone. Hard to say one way or another, but until there is proof (more recent than the 1996 wolf killed in Amherst, Maine), I remain skeptical, but open to the possibility.
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Written by otis magoun , August 02, 2009
I know there are wolves in Maine. Yes I realize even DNA tests are often up to interpretation and argumentation. I care little for that. I have seen many wolves in my travels through Canada. I ve listened to their calls at night and the world is better for it.I also have been a woodsman for more than 50 years. Yes, I fish, hike, and hunt. I could go on and on about the beauty I ve seen and the adventures I ve had. One late afternoon when a friend of mine and I were returning from fishing north of Baxter Park I saw my first Maine wolf. NO it wasn t a large coyote. I ve seen wolves before. This was a large animal with a large chest and head. In one bound it leaped up a 6 foot bank and was gone. It showed no fear and it s motion was so fluid and graceful we both just sat there in the truck in silence. OK no DNA,no dead body but it was a wolf. It looked like a wolf, it was big like a wolf, it is lodged in my memory bank as a wolf, so to me it was a wolf. Our other siting was when we were out partridge hunting west of Baxter. We had flushed a partridge from the road and I went in after it. Shortly I heard my friend yell a wolf was heading my way. I heard a large animal going through the brush but never saw it. My friend, who has seen many coyotes, said it was a wolf but unlike the one we saw before it was nearly all black. We have been fishing and hunting that area for more than 30 years and know it s animals well. These were wolves to us and wolves they will remain. My friend is a retired scientist and though my degrees are not in science I have some science background.Were these wolves part of an indigenous population or a couple of Canadian males wandering through looking for a territory I don t know. However they were wolves and we were in Maine. To me end of discussion. My scietist friend wants more. To me knowing they are there is enough.
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Written by Nicole , July 07, 2009
You and i have had this conversation and you know i believe they are here... there is no reason why they wouldn't or shouldn't be... same with the mountain lion... what better place to lay and sun and stock your prey than the ledges of blacks woods
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