Their inroads upon herds and sheep folds are sometimes horrifying, and a single wolf has been known to kill as many as forty sheep in a single night, seemingly from mere blood-thirsty desire.
In the early colonization of America, wolves ran wild over the country in immense numbers, and were a source of great danger; but now, owing to wide-spread civilization, they have disappeared from the more settled localities and are chiefly found in Western wilds and prairie lands.
The Grey Wolf is the largest and most formidable representative of the Dog tribe on this continent. Its general appearance is truthfully given in our drawing. Its length, exclusive of the tail, is about four feet, the length of the tail being about a foot and a half. Its color varies from yellowish grey to almost [Page 159] white in the northern countries, in which latitude the animal is sometimes found of an enormous size, measuring nearly seven feet in length. The fur is coarse and shaggy about the neck and haunches, and the tail is bushy. They abound in the region east of the Rocky Mountains and northward, and travel in packs of hundreds in search of prey. Bisons, wild horses, deer and even bears fall victims to their united fierceness, and human beings, too, often fall a prey to their ferocious attacks.
The Coyote, or Common Prairie Wolf, also known as the Burrowing Wolf, as its name implies inhabits the Western plains and prairies. They are much smaller than the Grey Wolf, and not so dangerous. They travel in bands and unitedly attack whatever animal they desire to kill. Their homes are made in burrows which they excavate in the ground. The Texan Wolf inhabits the latitude of Texas and southward. It is of a tawny red color and nearly as large as the grey species, possessing the same savage nature.
In April or May the female wolf retires to her burrow or den, and her young, from six to ten in number, are brought forth.
The wolf is almost as sly and cunning as the fox, and the same caution is required in trapping the animal. They are extremely keen scented, and the mere touch of a human hand on the trap is often enough to preclude the possibility of capture. A mere footprint, or the scent of tobacco juice, they look upon with great suspicion, [Page 160] and the presence of either will often prevent success.
The same directions given in regard to trapping the fox are equally adapted for the wolf. The trap (size No, 4, page 141) should be smoked or smeared with beeswax or blood, and set in a bed of ashes or other material as therein described, covering with moss, chaff, leaves or some other light substance. The clog should be fully twice as heavy as that used for the fox. Some trappers rub the traps with “brake leaves,” sweet fern, or even skunk’s cabbage. Gloves should always be worn in handling the traps, and all tracks should be obliterated as much as if a fox were the object sought to be secured.