Op-Ed: In the Wild, What You See Isn’t Necessarily So

Next time you see or hear of a unique predator where it shouldn’t be, give some thought as to just where it might have come from. If it happens to be a jaguar, don’t call me, been there and done that!

Op-Ed: In the Wild, What You See Isn’t Necessarily So

Wolverines are known for being among the most tenacious predators when cornered or challenged for a meal. (Photo: Zefram, Wikipedia)

“You’ll never guess what I saw this evening!” spluttered my normally calm, cool and collected bowhunting client as he stomped into the camp kitchen after his afternoon hunt. It was Iowa’s late-season whitetail hunt in early January. I figured a mule deer, mountain lion, or even an elk or moose would undoubtedly create some excitement.

When he said, “Wolverine,” my first thought was, “What the hell had he been smoking or drinking!”

He glassed the critter sneaking through the woods below his stand, watched it walk out 30 yards away through binoculars, and then lope off. It didn’t take long the following morning to locate tracks in the newly fallen from the day before, which were definitely a wolverine, photograph them and follow them to the property line. When I called the DNR and reported the sighting, they couldn’t have cared less, and never even bothered to investigate. Ho hum!  

So, where did a wolverine that turned up in the Loess Hills of west-central Iowa come from? Obviously, it could have migrated south from northern Minnesota, as they are inveterate travelers. However, more realistically, it could have simply been turned loose by an owner who simply got tired of feeding and caring for it.

It was only a few years earlier that a good friend of mine, E.H. Brown, a world-class taxidermist and hound hunting friend from Louviers, Colorado, had a similar experience in Colorado. His pair of Plotts treed the wolverine while he was hunting bobcats in the foothills of the Rockies. After verifying wolverines weren’t protected at the time, he ended up with a unique trophy. After some extensive investigation, the DOW verified the wolverine had been released by its owner some 20 miles from where Brownie treed it.  

When I was a warden in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, I got a call at 5 a.m. from a highway patrolman, friend, that a circus truck had wrecked on Wolf Creek Pass. Now, add four mountain lions, a leopard, a jaguar and four African lions — and we would have had a tiger to contend with, but it had been hit by a car. Over the next 48 hours, after some downright exciting and hair-raising stalking and shooting, I and several questionably intelligent law enforcement officer friends, managed to get them all tranquilized and recaptured, save for the jaguar. I only found one compadre who was even slightly interested in hunting a jaguar on the timbered slopes with a tranquilizer gun. I figured the big cat got severely injured and died somewhere in the woods or it would have turned up.

Long-Distance Travelers

Cougars or mountain lions are great travelers, and one of my hound hunting buddies caught a huge tom lion that was tagged in Colorado 240 miles from where he finally caught it in New Mexico. So, a cougar suddenly appearing in new country is nothing that exceptional. They are being protected by animal rights activists and do-gooders. As a result, they are expanding their territory exponentially, appearing in new neighborhoods regularly. In addition to the wild increase, many mountain lions are in captivity across the country. This factor significantly increases the likelihood of someone having a cute little pet kitty that grows to be more than they bargained for, and that results and further increases the chances of a cougar showing up in the most unlikely areas.

A few years after I moved to Pagosa Springs in southwestern Colorado, where I worked as a conservation officer in 1970, a trapper, bear chasing hound-hunting buddy of mine, Pete Sherwood, called and told me he had just trapped a lynx on Vail Pass. He said he had been trapping there 20 years and had never seen sign of a lynx. He was confident it had been dumped there. It wasn’t in good physical condition, had short whiskers and scarred toe pads, sure signs of captivity created by pacing back and forth in a wire cage with either concrete or expanded metal flooring. 

I never thought much of it until several years later when the Colorado Division of Wildlife — with lots of liberal pressure — started basing their entire multi-million-dollar lynx “re-introduction” program on this single lynx occurrence. Since it was a proven fact that lynx did exist, as proven by Pete’s lynx, they could claim it as a re-introduction, rather than introducing a new species. This made it much easier to get by the various laws governing federal lands and get government money a real ego booster for a biologist or two. Even had one pseudo-biologist pull hair from a museum specimen and claim he found it in a wire lynx locating trap set in the San Juan Mountains.

Today Colorado is faced with the same situation with wolves. Wolves have been seen in several locations giving the wolf lovers proof that wolves are already in Colorado. In turn, wolf lovers are using the sightings to advocate that wolf populations should be enhanced by re-introducing an additional 250 wolves to perpetuate this wildlife travesty.

With super-rich people, such as George Soros, Ted Turner and various groups providing the funding you could buy any number of live wolves, any age or color and with or without collars and move them to wherever it was expedient to perpetuate the myth that “they were already there!” How do you think they caught all the wolves they re-introduced into the Western Rockies that are decimating big game critters throughout the west?

Next time you see or hear of a unique predator where it shouldn’t be, give some thought as to just where it might have come from. If it happens to be a jaguar, don’t call me. Been there and done that!

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