Will Wolves Return to New Hampshire?
The last member of the canid family with ties to New Hampshire is the gray wolf, which now has federally protected status.
Two to three times the size of the eastern coyote, the gray wolf weighs up to 150 pounds, though it's about the same length as the coyote. The wolf ranges in color from sandy to grizzled, and has a black phase.
When New England was first settled in the colonial days, wolves were common here. Despised for their habit of killing sheep, they were eradicated over the years. The last N.H. wolf bounty was paid for two killed in 1895.
New England has been hearing more about wolves these days. In 1993, a wolf was killed in northern Maine, and other sightings have since occurred there. A population of wolves lives in Quebec, just 200 miles north of New Hampshire. In fact, a female wolf was killed in Canada two years ago within 20 miles of the New Hampshire border. In the fall of 2003, a wolf was killed in New York State that had the genetic profile of a Great Lakes gray wolf; officials are still attempting to confirm whether the animal was wild or captive-reared.
New Hampshire, with land that is 90 percent wooded and thriving populations of moose, deer and beaver -- prime wolf foods -- has many of the right habitat ingredients to support a wolf population. Within the next few decades, we may see wolves return to New Hampshire on their own, and our canid family will be complete once again.
--Eric Orff, Wildife Biologist