Wolf hybrids caught on reserve
Posted By MICHAEL PEELING
Answers behind the mysterious appearance of wolf-like animals first spotted in Akwesasne, N. Y. almost a year ago are coming to light.
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s animal control officer caught a fourth beast alive Monday morning near a local residence.
The wolf-like animal, or one just like it, was first spotted in early March.
Based on early observation of the animal by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), it bears a strong resemblance to three animals proven through genetic testing to be hybrids of the Alaskan wolf and an undetermined species of dog.
“It’s huge,” said David Staddon, spokesperson for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. “It weighs about 85 pounds, but it looks bigger because it’s so fluffy. It was eating out of Derek’s (Comins) hand.”
Comins, hired last June as the tribe’s first animal control officer, said the animals haven’t been acting in a threatening manner towards humans.
The first two animals were shot and killed shortly after the Tribal Police responded to reports from community members of several large wolf-like animals traipsing through their yards in April 2008 on Frogtown, North and White roads.
D. J. Monette of the USFWS said one of them was mistakenly believed to be rabid, while another was mistaken for a coyote.
In-depth genetic testing of the animals by the USFWS and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) found they were hybrids and members of the same family.
Tissue and fur samples from the captured wolf-like animal were taken Thursday by the USFWS, but the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe will have to wait for the results before deciding its fate.
More than an hour’s drive away in Parishville, N. Y. – around the same time the first two hybrids were shot – an animal which turned out to be related to the first two was shot and killed in the Adirondack foothills.
Monette said the USFWS, which enforces the Endangered Species Act, took a strong interest in the animals because they appeared to be very wolf-like.
“They have very little of a dog’s genes in them,” Monette said. “They have more of a wolf’s genes. It’s hard to see the dog in them. They have that wild instinct in them.”
And yet, some of the hybrids were said to get within 20 feet of humans, something a wolf would almost never do, according to Monette.
“Wolves don’t like to be around people,” Monette said. “A person would be extremely lucky to see a wolf in the wild.”
The big question on everyone’s lips now is the origin of the hybrids.
The USFWS says it’s unlikely Alaskan wolves would migrate to New York.
If the captured animal turns out to be a hybrid as well, the USFWS’s investigation into the animals will end. The hybrids are not protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Monette said there is a lot of speculation the hybrids were brought to the area and bred in captivity.
The wolf is considered of great cultural significance to the Mohawk people, so it’s a possibility the hybrids were bred for that reason, but proved to be poor pets.
“The Mohawks have the Wolf Clan. It’s a highly recognized animal in native culture,” Monette said. “However, it’s hard to say if someone has been raising these animals.”
The tribe is hoping someone will claim responsibility for the hybrids.
Comins said the tribe is in the process of proposing the implementation of an animal control ordinance.
The ordinance would make provisions for the tribe to control domestic animals and control the possession of wild animals, which includes wolves and hybrid wolves.