Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Texas and the Gray Wolf

The man moved across the rock floored porch and pulled the door open. The spring stretched and screeched and he took a step in, then back out, as his spurs jiggled. He spit across the porch, then walked back inside. The merchant behind the counter of the Castelon Trading Post studied the man, his leather hat and the drool of tobacco running down his unshaven chin.

“Paying two bits for Mexican grays,” the Merchant said.

“Good, I got a 110 on old Jack out there,” the trapper replied, as he nodded toward the burro tied outside at the post.

One of the last sightings of a Gray Wolf in Texas was near Castelon in the Big Bend National Park in 1971. The gray wolf also known as lobo or Mexican Wolf are the largest sub-species of the wolf family.

Their extermination in the continental United States was considered a victory by those who saw the animal as a threat to livestock.

Heavy trapping in the southwest in the first half of the 20th century kept the wolves population in check but the animal's innate ability to find dead things made them vulnerable to an even more efficient form of lupidide - strychnine poisoning. The heavy use in the 1960’s of this deadly crystalline alkaloid sprinkled on carcasses was the final blow to this once thriving species.

Their population exploded in the second half of the 19th century as the hunting of buffalo by European immigrants left thousands of carcasses to rot on the Great Plains.

The gray wolf has 42 teeth, an almost four inch square paw print with teardrop toes and generally weighs 85-100 lbs with large jaws. The force of their biting pressure has been measured at 1800 psi.

Wolves have the greatest range of any large mammal. Their heritage is pre-historic and tales of this animal can be found in Russia, China, Peru, India and all of Europe. The first domesticated dogs came from wolves.

In 1996 Canadian wolves were released into the Yellowstone National Park as part of the Environmental Protection Act 10J rule which finances the reintroduction of endangered species.
Today they can also be found in the White Mountain area of Arizona and western New Mexico and one was recently found north of El Paso, dead on the side of a highway.

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