Well, it’s official. We have wolves on the ranch.
There have been some unconfirmed sightings over the course of the last year. At least one was by a woman who does have some familiarity with them, so we figured it was only a matter of time. A few nights ago, a neighbor brought a recording of wolves singing at a ranch about 15 miles away for my husband to hear. The next day, hubby went out to feed and found distinct tracks of a big male and a female wolf that were made last night after the rain. In other words, perfectly clear and fresh, no chance it could have been anything else. While wolves have tracks similar in shape to a dog or coyote, they are huge in comparison, with much larger, longer claw marks. We haven’t seen scat yet, but I expect it won’t be long.
The recording was made less than a day before hubby found the wolf tracks on the ranch, which means we have at least one pack and one additional pair in the area. He says there are at least three wolves in the recording. It’s mating season, which may be why they were singing. The pair that showed up on the ranch could be the ones sighted a few months back, as the territory size is about right. He also saw some tracks while on a search and rescue operation about six weeks ago, which may be the same pair. Wolves base their territories (they are highly territorial and will kill or drive off unfamiliar wolves) on the feed sources, but the minimum is usually around 13 to 15 square miles.
Aside from some interesting night-time noises, having wolves around doesn’t make much of a change at the moment. We already pen our sheep, chickens, cats and dogs up at night and the wolves are unlikely to tackle an adult horse or cow. Calving season may be a problem – the singing pack is in an area where local ranchers are calving. There are plenty of deer around, not to mention rabbits, wild turkeys, geese and those pestiferous ground squirrels, as well as smaller rodents. However, they’re also competing with the cougars and various other predators such as coyotes, bobcats, eagles and hawks. We’ll have to see how things go…