My son and I were driving to our cottage in Haliburton County on a recent Saturday and, as we usually do, took the old Harburn Rd from the village of Haliburton to the hamlet of Fort Irwin. That road is not heavily travelled and winds through wonderful stands of hardwood forest. As we drove, we saw standing on the road an animal. The animal was of the lupine variety we knew….but whether a coyote or a wolf we didn’t know. I stopped the car and we observed as the animal calmly walked from the road to a ridge about twenty feet from the passenger side of the car. We estimated the weight as 50 pounds. We expected him (her?) to vanish into the forest as befits their breed. However, it paused on the ridge, about 20 feet from the car and perhaps six feet higher than us. He looked at us with what seemd like curiosity. For the next 3 or 4 minutes he yawned, looked, moved a little and seemed to want to go back to the road. John took a few pictures from his phone/camera and eventually the animal calmly trotted into the woods.
Ironically, just a few minutes before the encounter, I had remarked that apart from a few deer and one Black Bear, I had not seen much wildlife ever along that road! Neither of us and probably few people have ever seen a wolf in its natural habitat. John thinks it was a coyote; I think it was either a brush wolf, a young timber/gray wolf or a red wolf (EASTERN WOLF) which I think is smaller than a timber and rarer. I think I have read or heard of sightings of reds in Algonquin Park. The south end of the Park is only maybe 10 miles from where we saw this animal. I am forwarding pictures of this animal to you ( I wish the quality were better) and we would appreciate if you could enlighten us. Thank you.
Carl & John Harvey of Peterborough and Toronto
Reply: I forwarded the photos and question to Linda Rutledge, a Post-Doctoral Researcher & Lecturer at Trent University. Here is her reply: “It is impossible to distinguish an Eastern Wolf from an Eastern Coyote just from a picture or by seeing it in the field. The only way to know for sure is genetic analysis, although if you have size measurements (weight, length, shoulder height) you can infer what species it probably is – but still no guarantees because there is size overlap and they do interbreed, so you could even have a mixed animal. Having said all that, most of the animals in Algonquin Park are Eastern Wolves rather than Eastern Coyotes and the animal in the picture does look “wolfy”. If you forced me into a bet I would say Eastern Wolf. But without genetic analysis I couldn’t say for sure. I know that’s not much help but that is the truth of the matter. And how exciting to see a wild wolfy animal near Algonquin – very rare to see these creatures because they tend to be pretty elusive.”