Are There Wolves Roaming Baristaville?

BY  |  Friday, Jan 06, 2012 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (22)

There has been a discussion taking place on Montclair Watercooler about a possible wolf sighting near Brookdale Park a few weeks ago.

The person who wrote the initial posting said that she thought she saw a wolf roaming near the park on Christmas day.

“Not a dog. Really, and not a coyote either,” she wrote on Watercooler. “It was probably about 80 lbs and seemed calm. When I went out the door, it went into the trees behind my neighbor’s house and watched me, then trotted off.”

Others weighed in, with one saying she had seen a wolf in Essex Fells, and another saying she had seen what she thought was a wolf in Yantacaw Brook Park. Others said that the animal was more likely a coyote or a mixed breed “wolf dog.”

Baristanet spoke to Jim Stein at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, N.J., who told us that there “have not been wolves in New Jersey for about 100 years, so it is very unlikely they are seeing a wolf.”

He added that he frequently gets calls and emails from people claiming that there are wolves in their backyards, but that the animal is always a coyote, of which there are plenty in the state.

“In New Jersey, we have very big coyotes,” he said. “Some have been recorded over 60 pounds and they look similar [to wolves]” so it’s an easy mistake to make.

The woman who wrote the initial posting on Watercooler, a Montclair resident named Liz, confirmed to Baristanet that she thought she saw a wolf, and that it was definitely not a coyote or a husky, but that it could have possibly been a hybrid wolf, as some Watercooler posters suggested.

Stein says that’s a possibility too. A hybrid wolf, or wolfdog, is one that is the offspring of a dog and a wolf. The animals are illegal in most states, but not in New Jersey. (One such creature was recently found roaming the streets of Queens—they are illegal in New York—and was brought to Howling Woods Farm in Jackson.) Stein said that hybrid wolves often get out, and that there have been many cases of wandering hybrids in Hunterdon County.

But are there wolfdogs wandering around Essex County? Perhaps we’ll never know for sure. But if you’re the owner of a wolf-dog hybrid that’s been hanging out at the town parks lately, let us know!


  1. POSTED BY budmanzz  |  January 06, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    I think I saw a fox or coyote walking to the bus stop on the Bloomfield Nutley border a couple of months ago. Far less woods there than Brookdale park. Anyway, I thought it was just a loose dog until it got closer. It was all sorts of mangly looking and then popped a squat and crapped right on someone’s sidewalk. I’d imagine a dog would have at least moved to the grass. Fortunately it was on the smaller side, if I saw something like that which was 80 lbs, I might be having the movement.

  2. POSTED BY spridgets  |  January 06, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    Those wolves can really travel… the one in this SF Chronicle article sounds like he is doing a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. He’s traveled 700 miles so far, according to his GPS tracker.

  3. POSTED BY Jenn  |  January 06, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

    I was in the woods and this is what I saw:

  4. POSTED BY Pork Roll  |  January 06, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

    I think I saw a fox or coyote walking to the bus stop on the Bloomfield Nutley border a couple of months ago.

    Did it get on the bus after doing its business on the sidewalk?

  5. POSTED BY deadeye  |  January 06, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

    Coyotes can get pretty big…

  6. POSTED BY pat gilleran  |  January 06, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

    There was a wolf hybrid at the Brookdale Dog park some weeks ago. Hybrids are living in the area.

  7. POSTED BY pat gilleran  |  January 06, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

    There are coyotes in Brookdale- there have been sightings on Emmerson Terrace in Bloomfield (it abuts the park). There have also been coyote sightings on North Mountain in Montcalir.

  8. POSTED BY Nellie  |  January 06, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

    Yes, folks, there are coyotes in the area. So please, PLEASE keep your cats inside.

  9. POSTED BY PAZ  |  January 06, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

    Cats can smell a coyote a mile away.
    I’m more worried about the human coyotes
    grabbing building permits & variances.
    mea culpa

  10. POSTED BY Sandy  |  January 06, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

    There are many wolves in the Montclair / Bloomfield bars, tavens and social clubs. 🙂

  11. POSTED BY stu  |  January 06, 2012 @ 11:08 pm

    I’ve seen a few cougars too. In the bars that is.

  12. POSTED BY yourkiddingright  |  January 07, 2012 @ 1:19 am

    There are many Coyotes in Montclair, that is a fact. I work late and i see at least one a week in Nishuane park and in the eagle rock area. some of them are huge, st least 50 pounds, and some are mangy. A few months back I was confronted by two walking my dog. They walked to about 20 feet away, I called the government office in Trenton and they did not take me seriously.

  13. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  January 07, 2012 @ 8:42 am

    I saw one with a Chinese menu in his hand,
    Walking through the streets of Montclair in the rain,
    He was looking for a place called Wah-Chung,
    Going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein

  14. POSTED BY PAZ  |  January 07, 2012 @ 8:57 am

    “And his hair was just perfect!”
    “Doin’ the werewolf of B’ville.”

  15. POSTED BY cathar  |  January 07, 2012 @ 9:05 am

    This is extremely silly. Wolves are very rare in North America. They are even extremely rare even in North America’s remaining wolf habitats. There may be more of a bona fide case for the reappearance of “felis concolor,” the long-thought-extinct Eastern puma or catamount (as Vermont is known as the “catamount state”), but there is none for wolves

    As for coyotes, I lived for a while in Idaho, where coyotes are an actual problem for sheepmen. But even there, coyotes are extremely shy. Rarely seen. (But, yes, heard.) They are scavengers, remember. Fringe dwellers who move on the outskirts and famously sleep most of the days away. I doubt very much that’s changed.

    I suspect people are mostly just “seeing things,” confusing feral dogs. While the coyote has made a sort of comeback the last few decades, it would take a major shake-up of its emotional system for them to be as publicly visible as so many people claim they are. They’re just not that brazen.

    There is, however, as it turns out, an official coyote hunting season in place for NJ through March. With the state expecting/hoping hunters via either bow or firearm will “harvest” some 2500 or so (as many as were taken in that recent much shorter season for much slower, more obvious black bears). Based on how badly hunters cock things up even with deer, I’d be especially careful walking my dog in what pass for woods in Jersey the next few months.

    But there are certainly no “wolves” round here. (Even the “loup’garou” sort, or those whose hair is perfect, prof.) To claim otherwise is to indulge in hysteria.

  16. POSTED BY Spiro T. Quayle  |  January 07, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    Indeed, cathar.
    And to your last point, hyena-hysteria hastily hastens hyphenation.

  17. POSTED BY deadeye  |  January 07, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    Given our deer population, it is natural for coyotes to follow. Apparently eastern coyotes are taller than their western counterparts, in that, they more resemble wolves. I saw one in my yard upstate a couple of years ago and thought it was too big to be a coyote. It wasn’t the least bit afraid of me. I keep a bb gun to scare crows and squirrels away from our bluebird house and took a shot at it, just to annoy it. It loped off into the woods and continued to observe me from farther away. Later, I called the police and they said that calls were so numerous that they weren’t logging them any more. Also, that a small dog had been snatched right in front of it’s owner.

  18. POSTED BY yourkiddingright  |  January 07, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

    Cathar, so you are saying coyotes are very rare in Montclair and you think I am seeing feral dogs? Wow, that is a ton of feral dogs roaming the streets in the estate section. I just dont think you see them because you are not up at the godly hours I am.
    There are many coyotes in this area roaming around, and foxes too.
    Truth be known there are probably over 50,000 Wolves in North America too roaming around. None in this area I am sure unless they are hybrids.

  19. POSTED BY jkatz  |  January 08, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

    What about coywolves? According to Nat’l Geo & other authorities, hybrid coyote/wolves have been seen through New England and down to Virginnia. While I’m skeptical about wolves in Mtclr, perhaps we have coywolves.

  20. POSTED BY cathar  |  January 09, 2012 @ 9:40 am

    Yourekiddingright, yes, I do believe strongly that most coyote “sightings” are not that. Sorry. But in almost two years in Idaho, in an area with a lot of sheep ranchers largely of Basque origi and thus from a culture which knows from watchfulness, they always noted over coffee how rarely they actually ever saw their “nemeses.” They’re just not that brazen, and for them to behave otherwise would require a major shift in their genetic makeup. I myself when out there may have seen them only three times, and two of those are iffy; the third time, however, I was with someone from the county extension agent’s officer, who was sure we indeed had seen a coyote mom and two pups.

    I’ve also never heard of coyotes mating with wolves. Sounds highly unlikely.

    Just to pull out a map and contemplate how coyotes may in fact have moved east, however, is to realize how difficult this coyote version of “voortrekking” would be. The usual assumption is that coyotes (and/or wolves as well) somehow made their way up into Canada, then across that nation’s relatively populous stretches, then somehow came down into the US at various points from NY, NH, Vermont and Maine. Maybe, but the journey sure sounds daunting, and would have required quite a few breeding pairs over the last 30 or so years. If they in fact did it this way, then they truly are an amazing species. Also, to be fair, given the well-attested stories of cats and dogs making their way home across vast distances, there likely are assorted critters who can safely negotiate traffic and superhighways and rail lines, although it surely requires great intelligence, daring and caution. That said, no, there are no “wolves” round here, and that assertion is just patently foolish.

  21. POSTED BY claremont  |  January 09, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    Interestingly on this subject, in the last couple of days I saw a program on NatGeo about coyotes. It addressed many statements/issues talked about here. First of all the coyote is highly adaptable to it’s surroundings. They came out here from the plains and then up to Canada through Ontario. During this eastern/northern trip – more near Canada they cross bred with Wolves. There is type of Coyote called the Eastern Coyote which is bigger then the other one. Whether that means they are around here, I have no idea but I doubt it. However what I knew and understand is that coyotes are highly intelligent and can change their hunting styles to suit the prey. They can act friendly and then change their hunting stance, shall we say. So I hope that helps.

  22. POSTED BY pat gilleran  |  January 12, 2012 @ 6:46 am

    “A study showed that of 100 coyotes collected in Maine, 22 had half or more wolf ancestry, and one was 89% wolf. The large eastern coyotes in Canada are proposed to be actually hybrids of the smaller western coyotes and wolves that met and mated decades ago, as the coyotes moved toward New England from their earlier western ranges.”

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