71            Prairie Wolf

                              CANIS LATRANS.--Say.

                          PRAIRIE WOLF,--BARKING WOLF.

                               PLATE LXXI.--MALE.

     C. cano cinereus nigris et opace pulvo-cinnameo-variegatus; lateribus
pallidioribus; fascia taise lata brevigra; cauda recta fusiformi
cineraceo-cinnameoque variegata apice nigra.

     Hair cinereous grey, varied with black above and dull fulvous cinnamon;
sides paler than the back, obsoletely fasciate, with black above the legs; tail
straight, bushy, fusiform, varied with grey and cinnamon, tip black.


     SMALL WOLVES, Dr Praly, Louisiana, vol. ii., p. 54.
     PRAIRIE WOLF, Gass. Journal, p. 56.
     PRAIRIE WOLF and BURROWING DOG, Lewis and Clark, vol. i., p. 102, 13, 203.
       vol. iii., pp. 102, 136, 203.
     PRAIRIE WOLF Schooleraft's Travels, 285.
     CANIS LATRANS, Say, Long's Exped. i., p. 168.
     CANIS LATRANS, Harlan, p. 33.
     CANIS LATRANS, God., 1 vol., 26.
     CANIS LATRANS, Richardson, F. B. Ar. 75.
     LYCISCUS CAJOTTIS, Hamilton Smith, Nat. Lib., vol. iv., p. 164, p. 6.


     The Barking or Prairie Wolf is intermediate in size, between the large
American Wolf and the grey Fox (V. virginianus.)  It is a more lively animal
than the former, and possesses a cunning fox-like countenance.  In seeing it on
the prairies, and also in menageries, in a state of domestication, we have often
been struck with its quick, restless manner, and with many traits of character
that reminded us of sly reynard.
     The nose is sharp and pointed; nostrils moderately dilated and naked--the
upper surface to the forehead covered with compact short hairs; eyelids placed
obliquely on the sides of the head.  Eyes rather small--moustaches few, very
rigid, extending to the eyes, four or five stiff hairs rising on the sides of
the neck below the ears.  Head rather broad; Ears, erect, broad at base, running
to an obtuse point, clothed with compact soft far in which but few of the longer
hairs exist; body, tolerably stout; legs, of moderate length, shorter in
proportion than those of the common Wolf; Tail, large and bushy, composed like
the covering of the body of two kinds of hair, the inner soft and woolly, the
outer longer and coarser and from two to three and a half inches in length.
Soles of the feet naked, nails rather stout, shaped like those of the dog.  The
whole structure of the animal is indicative of speed, but from its compact shape
and rather short legs we would be led to suppose that it was rather intended for
a short race than a long heat.


     Nostrils, around the edges of the mouth, and moustaches, black; upper
surface of nose, and around the eyes, reddish brown; upper lip, around the edges
of the mouth, and throat, white; eye-lids, yellowish white. hairs on the
forehead, at the roots reddish brown, then a line of yellowish white tipped with
black, giving it a reddish grey appearance.  Inner surface of the ears (which
are thinly clothed with hair) white; outer surface, yellowish brown; the fore
legs reddish brown, with a stripe of blackish extending from the fore shoulder
in an irregular black line over the knee to near the pans.  Outer surface of the
hind legs, reddish brown, inner surface a little lighter.
     On the back the soft under far is dingy yellow; the longer hair from the
roots to two-thirds of its length black, then a broad line of yellowish brown,
broadly tipped with black.  Neck, reddish brown; throat and all beneath,
yellowish white, with bars under the throat and on the chest and belly of a
reddish tinge.  On the tail the softer hair is plumbeous, the Longer hairs are
like those on the back except on the tip of the tail where they are black for
nearly their whole length.  The description here given is from a very fine
specimen obtained at San Antonio in Texas.  There is not however a uniformity of
colour in these animals, although they vary less than the large wolves.  The
specimen which RICHARDSON described was obtained on the Saskatchewan.  We
examined it in the Zoological Museum of London:  it differs in some shades of
colours from ours--its ears are a little shorter, its nose less pointed, and the
skull less in breadth--but it was evidently the same species, and could not even
be regarded as a distinct variety.  The many specimens we examined and compared,
in various tints of colour differed considerably, some wanting the brown tints,
being nearly grey, while many had black markings on the shin and forelegs which
were absent in others.  In all descriptions of wolves, colour is a very
uncertain guide in the designation of species.

                                                             Feet   Inches
     From point of nose to root of tail.  .  .  .  .  .  .     2     10
     Tail vertebrae, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           11
     Tail to end of hair,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     1      3
     Height of ear,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            3
     Breadth of tail at the base,.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            3
     From heel to end of longest nail, .  .  .  .  .  .  .            6
     Point of nose to corner of eye,.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            3 1/2
     Breadth of skull,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            4
     Fore shoulder to end of longest nail,.  .  .  .  .  .     1      1
     Breadth across the forehead,.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            2 1/8


     We saw a good number of these small wolves on our trip up the Missouri
river, as well as during our excursions through those portions of the country
which we visited bordering on the Yellow Stone.
     This species is well known throughout the western parts of the States of
Arkansas and Missouri, and is a familiar acquaintance of the "voyageurs" on the
upper Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  It is also found on the Saskatchewan.
It has much the appearance of the common grey Wolf in colour, but differs from
it in size and manners.
     The Prairie Wolf hunts in packs, but is also often seen prowling singly
over the plains in search of food.  During one of our morning rambles near Fort
Union, we happened to start one of these wolves suddenly.  It made off at a very
swift pace and we fired at it without any effect, our guns being loaded with
small shot at the time; after running about one hundred yards it suddenly
stopped and shook itself violently, by which we perceived that it had been
touched; in a few moments it again started and soon disappeared beyond a high
range of hills, galloping along like a hare or an antelope.
     The bark or howl of this wolf greatly resembles that of the dog, and on one
occasion the party travelling with us were impressed by the idea that Indians
were in our vicinity, as a great many of these wolves were about us and barked
during the night like Indian dogs.  We were all on the alert, and our guns were
loaded with ball in readiness for an attack.
     In Texas the Prairie Wolves are perhaps more abundant than the other
species; they hunt in packs of six or eight, which are seen to most advantage in
the evening in pursuit of deer.  It is amusing to see them cut across the curves
made by the latter when trying to escape, the hindmost Wolves thus saving some
distance and finally striking in ahead of the poor deer and surrounding it, when
a single Wolf would fail in the attempt to capture it.  By its predatory and
destructive habits, this Wolf is a great annoyance to the settlers in the new
territories of the west.  Travellers and hunters on the prairies, dislike it for
killing the deer, which supply these wanderers with their best meals, and
furnish them with part of their clothing, the buck-skin breeches, the most
durable garment, for the woods or plains.  The bark or call-note of this Wolf,
although a wild sound to the inhabitant of any settled and cultivated part of
the country, is sometimes welcomed, as it often announces the near approach of
daylight; and if the wanderer, aroused from his slumbers by the howling of this
animal, raises his blanket and turns his head toward the east, from his
camping-ground underneath the branches of some broad spreading live-oak, he can
see the red glow, perchance, that fringes the misty morning vapours, giving the
promise of a clear and calm sunrise in the mild climate of Texas, even in the
depth of winter.  Should day-light thus be at hand, the true hunter is at once
afoot, short. space of time does he require for the duties of the toilet, and
soon he has made a fire, boiled his coffee, and broiled a bit of venison or wild
     This Wolf feeds on birds, small and large quadrupeds, and when hard pressed
by hungers even upon carrion or carcasses of buffaloes, &c.  It is easily tamed
when caught young, and makes a tolerable companion, though not gifted with the
good qualities of the dog.  We had one once, which was kept in a friend's store
in the vest, and we discovered it to be something of a rat catcher.  This
individual was very desirous of being on friendly terms with all the dogs about
the premises, especially with a large French poodle that belonged to our friend,
but the poodle would not permit our half-savage barking Wolf to play with him,
and generally returned its attempted caresses with an angry snap, which put all
further friendly demonstrations out of the question.  One day we missed our pet
from his accustomed place near the back part of the ware-house, and while we
were wondering what had become of him, were attracted by an unusual uproar in
the street.  In a moment we perceived the noise was occasioned by a whole pack
of curs of high and low degree, which were in full cry, and in pursuit of our
Prairie Wolf.  The creature thus hard beset, before we could interfere, had
reached a point opposite a raised window, and to our surprise, made a sudden
spring at it and jumped into the warehouse without touching the edges of the
sills, in the most admirable manner, while his foes were completely baffled.
     After this adventure the Wolf would no longer go out in the town and seemed
to give up his wish to extend the circle of his acquaintance.
     The Barking or Prairie Wolf digs its burrows upon the prairies on some
slight elevation, to prevent them from being filled with water.  These dens have
several entrances, like those of the red fox.  The young, from five to seven and
occasionally more, in number, are brought forth in March and April.  They
associate in greater numbers than the larger Wolves, hunt in packs, and are said
by RICHARDSON to be fleeter than the common Wolf.  A gentleman, an experienced
hunter on the Saskatchewan, informed him that the only animal on the plains
which he could not overtake when mounted on a good horse, was the prong-horned
antelope, and that the Prairie Wolf was next in speed.
     All our travellers have informed us, that on the report of a gun on the
prairies, numbers of these Wolves start from the earth, and warily approach the
hunter, under an expectation of obtaining the offal of the animal he has killed.
     The skins of the Prairie Wolves are of some value, the fur being soft and
warm; they form a part of the Hudson Bay Company's exportations, to what extent
we are not informed.  RICHARDSON says they go under the name of cased-wolves
skins, not split open like those of the large Wolf, but stripped off and
inverted or cased, like the skin of a fox or rabbit.

                           GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.

     According to RICHARDSON, the northern range of this species is about the
fifty-fifth degree of latitude.  It is found abundantly on the plains of the
western prairies and sparingly on the plains adjoining the woody shores of the
Columbia river.  It exists in California, and is found in Texas and on the
eastern side of the mountains in New Mexico.  We have traced it to within the
tropics, but are not aware that it reaches as far south as Panama.  The eastern
branches of the Missouri river appear to be its farthest eastern range.

                                GENERAL REMARKS.

     There has been but little difficulty in the nomenclature of this species,
Hamilton Smith, we perceive, has given it a new name, from a specimen obtained
in Mexico.  The description of its habits, by LEWIS and CLARKE, is full and
accurate and in accordance with our own observations.