Talk about a lone wolf. For more than two years and 600 miles, a young timber wolf from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula roamed through Wisconsin and eastern Iowa before ending his odyssey last October at a sheep pen in northern Missouri.
A bowhunter figured the wolf for a hungry coyote and arrowed him. Then he discovered the animal’s radio collar and an ear tag marked No. 18. The hunter turned the 80-pound canine over to the Missouri Department of Conservation, which traced the collar and tag to Michigan. Turns out No. 18 was a gray wolf that had been trapped and collared in July 1999 near Ironwood, on the Wisconsin border east of Duluth. Michigan wildlife officials monitored the juvenile wolf for nine months, then lost track of it. During that radio silence, No. 18 covered plenty of ground.
Missouri hasn’t been home to wolves in over a century, but wildlife officials are taking No. 18’s recent presence as an aberration. “For years, we have believed and told people that there were no wild wolves in Missouri,” said Conservation Department wildlife research biologist Dave Hamilton. “We can’t say that anymore.”