"Standing with one forefoot in the jaws of the steeltrap and snarling at her to drive her off where she lay just beyond the reach of the chain. She'd flattened her ears and whined and she would not leave. In the morning they came on horses. She watched from a slope a hundred yards away as he stood up to meet them"
Ernest Thompson Seton (c. 1901)
Public DomainErnest Thompson Seton (c. 1901) - Credit: Library of Congress

This passage is reminiscent of an incident from Ernest Thompson Seton’s account of hunting the wolf Lobo.

After months of frustration in his pursuit of the wolf, Seton discovered Lobo's weakness: his mate, a white wolf named Blanca. Seton eventually managed to catch Blanca in one of the traps Lobo had so far carefully avoided. When Seton found her, she was howling with Lobo by her side. As Seton and his men approached, Lobo ran to a safe distance and could only watch on helplessly as the hunters killed Blanca by breaking her neck with ropes tied to their horses. According to his accounts, Seton heard the howls of Lobo for days afterwards, which he described as having ‘an unmistakable note of sorrow in it... It was no longer the loud, defiant howl, but a long, plaintive wail.’ Although his heart went out to the grieving wolf, Seton continued his plan to capture Lobo. Seton then set more traps, using Blanca's body to scent them. On January 31, 1894, Lobo was finally caught, with each of his four legs clutched in a trap.

Ironically, Seton would go on to become one of the founding figures of the conservation movement in the U.S. and was largely responsible for the rehabilitation of the wolf’s reputation in America.

 

Seton's illustration of Lobo and Blanca
Public DomainSeton's illustration of Lobo and Blanca - Credit: Ernest Thompson Seton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read the story of Lobo as recorded by Seton in his book Wild Animals I Have Known here.

The story was also turned into a documentary film: The Wolf That Changed America.