Howl in the Night

by Carl Strang

One of the most memorable moments during my visit to Chain O’Lakes State Park last week came in the middle of the night. I was awakened by a long, low howl that immediately was joined by a chorus of high-pitched coyote howls, somewhere not too far from my campsite. There must have been at least 8 coyotes, a good-sized litter having matured to near independence at this point in the season.

Coyote at Mayslake Forest Preserve

But that first howl. Granted, I was awakened by it and therefore still half asleep. But it was a long howl, and its sound was so identical to those of wolf howl recordings I have heard that my waking-up was immediate and complete before the howl finished. I hoped it would repeat, but it did not, and the coyotes quickly subsided as well. I have been speculating since that moment.

Wolf at Indiana’s Wolf Park

A wolf was found road-killed in the vicinity of Chain O’Lakes a few years ago. Wolves have wandered into Illinois occasionally from the nearest population center in central Wisconsin during the past decade. Wolves are known to cross with coyotes, and this is thought to happen more frequently at the fringes of wolf populations in the Great Lakes region. So, what did I hear that night? I am not saying it was a wolf. As I said, I was half asleep. Still, it is conceivable that a wolf came down from Wisconsin and paired with a coyote in that park, which is extensive enough that a shy canid could stay out of sight.

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1 Comment

  1. February 14, 2013 at 6:54 am

    […] population and mated with a coyote. This study caught my eye because of my experience of hearing a possible wolf-plus-coyote chorus at Chain O’Lakes State Park last […]


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