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McCone Creature Mystery Continues

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 22nd, 2007

Shunka Warakin

Has the Shunka Warak’em of McCone County, Montana returned? And in what belief system do thoughts of “manipulated breeding” carry any truths to explain such incidents? Dave Loos tackles the news from Montana with perfect prairie prose that hits at the edgeness of this enigma:

A mystery predator responsible for 12 sheep deaths in Eastern Montana last month could be connected to the dozens of similar attacks in late 2005 and early 2006, which some officials blame on a domestic hybrid species of wolf.

Montana’s top wolf official said this week that two suspicious animals remain on the loose in and near Garfield County following the sheep deaths in late August. A third animal killed in a coyote snare earlier this month has yet to be positively identified as wild or domestic.

“It’s a young female, charcoal gray in color,” said Carolyn Sime, wolf coordinator for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “It looks like something we would see in the Northern Rockies, but I’ve also seen domestic wolves that look the same. It’s unclear what the origin is.”

The recent deaths revive last year’s furor in McCone and Garfield Counties over the 100-plus sheep slaughtered, and the subsequent hunt that ultimately left dead a domestic wolf, the product, officials believe, of manipulated breeding in captivity.

More than that, the frustration of stockmen, as Hal Herring wrote last year for NewWest.Net, was “not entirely directed at the creature itself (the stockmen here know full well how to handle that problem) but at the federal and state governments, at complex regulations imposed to protect an animal that they despise, and at a far-away society that seems to have lost all respect for them and their constant struggle to remain self-reliant, solvent, and on the land.”

Sime said the dead wolf does not match the description of either animal spotted by USDA wildlife service officials on August 22 as they searched for the predators from an airplane. One of those animals was brown, the other was gray. Both were spotted within two miles of the most recent sheep attacks near Jordan.

“The brown color is a flyer that something is not right,” said Sime. “The one last year was brown as well.”

Officials authorized the USDA to kill both of the spotted wolves, but ended up catching the third unidentified wolf species instead. Sime said it’s possible that one or both of the wolves that remain on the loose are domestic. “It’s unusual for wolves to disperse as groups,” she said. “It could be a combination of captive and wild animals.”

Sime said wolf sightings of the last month could be an extension of events from late 2005 and early 2006, but admitted that the agency remains somewhat baffled by the new case. There have been no sightings in vicinity of Jordan since Labor Day weekend.

And the mystery of the Creature of McCone County continues. by Dave Loos, “Montana Wolf Mystery Revived, Officials Snare Second Hybrid Wolf,” New West, September 21, 2007.

Find the past stories here and here (#7) .

Thanks to kittenz for putting us on the prowl.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

6 Responses to “McCone Creature Mystery Continues”

  1. sschaper responds:

    Well, of -course- they couldn’t be spreading out from Yellowstone or Glacier, so they have to blame it on pet wolves that have escaped. . . .

  2. Alligator responds:

    Concerning a Michigan wolf that showed up in Missouri in 2001 –

    “Michigan Wolf Killed in Missouri

    The list of animals you can see in Missouri continues to grow. A Grundy County man, returning from bowhunting for deer Oct. 23, spied what he thought was a coyote peering into his sheep pen. Fearing for the safety of his livestock, he shot and killed the animal. Then he discovered the “coyote” was wearing an ear tag and a radio collar. Realizing he had killed a wolf, he did the right thing and brought the carcass to a conservation agent.

    Conservation Department. Furbearer Biologist Dave Hamilton later verified that it was a gray wolf and traced it back to Michigan, where it had been marked and its movements tracked as part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ wolf management program.

    Also known as timber wolves, gray wolves once lived in Missouri. They were extirpated here and elsewhere in the eastern United States by the end of the 19th century. Timber wolves persisted in Minnesota. From there, they dispersed back into Wisconsin and Michigan, which now have wolf populations of their own.

    The wolf killed here was a 2 1/2-year-old male weighing 80 pounds. Michigan biologists tracked it for nine months after capturing and tagging it in July 1999. After that, biologists lost track of the animal. Now they know why. It was on a 600-mile road trip.

    The gray wolf is classified as federally endangered in Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri. However, the species has grown numerous enough in Minnesota that it is considered threatened there, and federal officials are considering downgrading its status to threatened in other states. This would allow more flexibility in managing gray wolves when they cause problems for people. The man who shot the wolf here will not be prosecuted because he was protecting his livestock and reasonably assumed the animal was a coyote.

    “For years, we have believed and told people that there were no wild wolves in Missouri,” said Hamilton. “We can’t say that anymore, though the likelihood of seeing a wolf here still is extremely small.”

    Hamilton said the Conservation Department has never stocked wolves and has no plans to restore them to Missouri. He said the state lacks wilderness areas large enough to sustain wolves without unacceptable human conflicts.”

    This wolf traveled 600 miles across farmland without detection. Like Sschaper said, it would be no big deal for wolves to follow one of the rivers out of Glacier or Yellowstone into a farming/ranching area. There is often quite a bit of color variation amongst gray wolves. Grayish brown is common, but black and white wolves are not unknown and wolves with even more brown than gray wouldn’t be unusual. The Mexican subspecies is even yellowish. There are documented cases of wolves and coyotes interbreeding with feral or free-ranging dogs so ‘manipulated breeding’ is not necessary to create hybrids. Some wolf-dog hybrids may be a bit unusual looking from the normal wolf profile. I don’t think this mystery predator will turn out to be too mysterious.

    This reminds me. The woman who shot the dog…I mean chupacabras in Texas, sent the head off for DNA analysis. I’ve not seen any report on the results of that test. Surely by now, someone would have some results. After all the hubbub she made and the media circus, I think we are owed the outcome of the tests even if it anti-climatic (which I am confident it was). Mr. Coleman, if you learn anything about this, please post it although I recall that you were disgusted with these ugly dogs being turned into cryptids by the media. Thanks.

  3. kittenz responds:

    Maybe the animals are descendants of captive wolves, or wolf hybrids, that either escaped from captivity or were deliberately set free, which have adapted to living wild and formed a breeding group.

  4. fossilhunter responds:

    Got a question…

    What is the picture used with this story? I didn’t see that it was identified in any way. To me the photo looks like a museum display of an Archaeotherium, fossil relative of today’s pigs. For a comparison visit: National Geographic New Photo Gallery.

    Just curious!

  5. Rappy responds:

    Fossilhunter, that picture is the “ringdocus” mount, supposedly a Shunka Warak’in. If you search the archives, Loren talked about it some on December 10 of last year.

  6. JB24038 responds:

    i really cant see how its some kind of wolf the back slopes far to much, im my view it looks a lot like a brown hyena, the hair on the back the sloped back the nose isnt at blunt neither the ears so pricked but everything else seems to match even the skinner legs.

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