Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lone wolf

"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes," he is quoted as saying - but that didn't apply to the pursuit of the wolf that had killed some 70 of his sheep and goats in the spring of 1743. The whelps had been killed, but the wily she-wolf had escaped from traps and dogs numerous times. Her undoing came when she left part of a paw in a trap and the blood trail allowed the man and his neighbors to track her to her lair. They sent in the dogs, but they retreated with whines and wounds. They threw in burning straw and sulfur, but still the wolf held her ground. The farmer, Israel Putnam (1718-1790) - who later distinguished himself as a general in the American Revolutionary War - bravely volunteered to go in after her himself: "...stripping off all superfluous garments, he crawled into the cave. After ascertaining by the light of a birch-bark torch the whereabouts of the wolf, whose fiery orbs glared upon him out of the darkness, he was drawn out so hurriedly that he was severely cut and bruised. Loading his musket carefully, he went in again and shot the wolf. After being drawn out he went in a third time and emerged dragging the creature out by the ears." As it turns out, Putnam (1st image) had just killed the last wolf in the state of Connecticut. The wolf's den (2nd image) is still marked in Mashamoquet Brook State Park. The future General Putnam had saved the area's livestock - and had also spared the state's dead from being disturbed.

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