Gray wolf spotted lurking in the Black Hills

//Gray wolf spotted lurking in the Black Hills

Gray wolf spotted lurking in the Black Hills

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A gray wolf has appeared where he isn’t supposed to be: the Black Hills.

The proof of his presence looks like a clip from a nature documentary, a video that shows a lean, long and powerful gray wolf trotting up a forest hillside and stopping at a distance of about 70 yards. The wolf gives an intense stare back toward the camera for only a moment before scurrying into the safety and seclusion of the aspen- and pine-filled forest.

The scene wasn’t filmed in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, or Minnesota, the wolf’s usual habitat. It was shot less than a week ago in a favorite elk-hunting spot by rural Hot Springs resident Lance Verhulst, who is keeping quiet about the exact location, saying only that it is north of Jewel Cave.

Verhulst, 47, and a friend were driving along bumpy U.S. Forest Service roads scouting for elk at about 6:30 p.m. last Friday when they saw the animal. Verhulst recorded the whole thing on video.

“We came around a little bend in the road, and there it was,” Verhulst said, speculating the animal must have been sleeping or lying down and didn’t seem overly concerned with the vehicle.

Thirty yards. That was the distance at which Verhulst first saw the animal he estimated to be 80 pounds. He scrambled for this camera and was able to record it for roughly 45 seconds before it trotted up the hill and disappeared into the woods.

Verhulst posted the video on YouTube, but the fuss that erupted shortly after caused him to remove it and regret ever posting it. The video was then picked up posted again by another website.

“If I knew all the trouble it was going to cause for me,” he said, “I wouldn’t have ever put it up.”

Dozens of hunters, conservationists and the just plain curious from around the country flooded his phone with calls, and he wanted them to stop. In the past there has been fierce debate over the existence of wolves in the Black Hills and what to do with them if they are here. His video may have sparked that again.

“We are pretty confident from the video it is a wolf,” said John Kanta, regional wildlife manager for the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks.

“More than likely it is a lone male just traveling through the area though,” Kanta said, explaining that young males sometimes range into the Black Hills from Wyoming or the Great Lakes population in Minnesota.

Verhulst was contacted by the state but didn’t release the exact location to GF&P — or anyone else for that matter— because he doesn’t want a bunch of people looking for a wolf in his elk-hunting spot.

“Because we don’t know exactly where the video was taken, we can’t go out and confirm 100 percent that this is a wolf,” Kanta said while noting that all signs point to its being a male gray wolf.

This video will go into a state database that houses all of the wolf sightings for South Dakota. That database gets between five and a dozen entries a year for sightings in the Black Hills. Most of the sightings are unfounded, but sometimes they can be confirmed Kanta said.

Kanta said the last confirmed wolf in the Black Hills was in 2012, when one was shot in Custer County. DNA testing showed that one came from the Great Lake Region.

via Gray wolf spotted lurking in the Black Hills.

By | 2015-09-16T09:59:21+00:00 September 16th, 2015|South Dakota|0 Comments

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