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Last updateThu, 22 Feb 2024 3pm

Animal shot in January confirmed as wolf

    Biologists have identified an animal shot near Little Fish Lake last winter was a wolf, and what a wolf it was.
    In The Mail’s January 12 edition, it reported that Ed Gammie killed the animal on his property. The animal weighed about 115 pounds and measured about 6 feet from nose to tail, large even by a wolf standard.
    Local Fish and Wildlife submitted the skull to The University of Alberta to be properly identified.
    Rob Losey, a member of the faculty of Anthropology at the University of Alberta and a palaeontologist colleague from Belgium identified the skull to be a typical adult wolf.
    “We used a series of measurements on the wolf’s skull and compared them with measurements taken on a large group of North America (largely Alberta) and Eurasian wolves, as well as with those of dogs. We then used a multivariate statistical program to assess whether the skull more resembled a wolf or a dog,” said Losey.
    Local Fish and Wildlife officer Byron Jensen explained that throughout history, animals have been most often catalogued by measurements, and these are used to determine the species. There is no simple DNA test. What also complicates the identification is that wolves and dogs have been mixing for centuries, and even if it appears as a wolf, it is difficult to say if it is a pure strain.
    He said this occurrence of a wolf in the area is rare given the landscape and the fact the pack animal was alone. Having said that, it is not completely unexpected, as wild animals can have large and varied ranges.  Resident sightings have confirmed the presence of cougars in the area over the past few years, and Jensen said every five or six years a black bear typically wanders down the river valley.
    What also struck Jensen is the size. In comparing it with a wolf skull he had in the office, he concluded it is one big wolf.
    Patty Ralrick, who is affiliated with the Royal Tyrrell Museum, confirmed his feeling. The subject of her masters research is on Little Fish Lake, and she took measurements of the skull.  In her mind, there is no doubt it is a wolf. While they are a rarity today, in her field work she stumbled upon about a dozen skull in the Little Fish Lake area between 600 and 1,400 years old.
    “It was the largest skull I had seen,” said Ralrick, who compared known wolf skulls in the Royal Alberta Museum and skulls collected by Alberta Fish and Wildlife.
    “When I took all my measurements that I took of the skull of the wolf from the Delia area, and put it into my matrices, it fell out with the wolves, and actually very high. It is a very large animal … it is definitely one of the biggest skulls I have seen.”
    Aside from just the size, she said the large size of the cutting teeth, the shape of auditory bullae and the shape of the skull tipped her off that it was a wolf.
    As for Gammie, he has the skull to keep.
    “I hope this is the last one I see,” he said.


3rd annual Coats For Kids campaign Thursday

Western Gm in Drumheller will be hosting there 3rd Annual COATS FOR KIDS campaign this Thursday October 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the showroom.
 
The objective of Coats For Kids is to collect as much good useable children’s and adults winter outerwear as possible. All coats will be dry cleaned by ALSCO. Western GM will then submit the winter outerwear through the Salvation Army, which will then be given free of charge to children and adults in need throughout Drumheller and area.

Enter your name to win a door prize from Western GM. Refreshments supplied by Freson Bros. IGA Drumheller. Please come out and make this the Best COATS FOR KIDS EVER.

Drivers complying with new distracted driver legislation

    It is a month into the new Distracted Driving legislation, and by and large it appears residents are learning to hang up on the road.
    The local detachment has been enforcing the new law, which bans the use of hand held cell phones and a number of other activities that could distract a driver while they are behind the wheel.
    “I think the majority of the people are compliant, but there are still some people that think it is more important to take that phone call or text when they are driving,” said Corporal Kevin Charles.
    He said by last week they have issued about a half dozen tickets and about the same number of warnings.  By and large the violations have been for using a cell phone, although he knows of one where a woman was applying lipstick while she was on the road.
    “It is going to be a lot like seatbelts.  I remember as a kid there was no seatbelt law in Alberta. When that changed over, I am sure the public was up in arms, and there was a time period before people realized. And now everyone knows that when you get in a car you wear a seatbelt,” said Charles.
    “In a few more months it will become a positive habit for people.”


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