A hybrid animal, part dog and part wolf, that had eluded game officials in Pennypack Park for weeks was finally captured on July 2.
A hot dog did the trick.
Dan Lynch, a PGC Southeast Region Wildlife Education Specialist, said the animal had become accustomed to eating wieners left daily in the park by people who were concerned about its well-being.
“Hot dogs were recognized immediately as our best attractant and we put them to work. It didn’t take long!” he said.
The animal was captured in a foothold trap on the park side of the 8600 block of Algon Ave.
“A variety of approaches were used to remove this animal from Pennypack Park,” Lynch added. “We tried tranquilizer equipment and cage traps, with no success and so we eventually opted for foothold traps. Within three hours, it was captured. The animal was out of the trap in less than a minute and was seemingly unfazed by the experience as it sat calmly in its transport pen.”
The animal was taken to the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, north of Lititz in Lancaster County, where its health is being assessed so it can be cared for properly. The 22-acre woodland wolf retreat has been offering refuge to wolves and wolf-hybrids that have become ownerless, and without proper permits to be kept legally.
Initially, game officers began searching in early June for what they thought was a coyote that had been spotted near Krewstown Road and Algon Avenue.
That’s what callers contacting police and the Pennsylvania Game Commission said they had seen, according to Jerry Czech, PGC’s wildlife officer for Philadelphia.
But on June 22, officials saw some clear hotos of the animal and knew right away it was not a coyote, but an animal that was part wolf and part dog.
“We think that it was someone’s pet, and either was let go or escaped,” Czech said in an e-mail to the Northeast Times. That happened locally, he said. The animal was not just passing through the area.
How many wolves or wolf-hybrids are likely to be trotting around Pennypack Park?
In Czech’s experience, not many. He said he’s seen maybe four or five wolves in the past 10 years whose owners got them on the black market. They’re illegal to own in Pennsylvania without permits, he added.
Humans had presented a problem to game officers who were trying to catch the wolf-dog, Czech said.
One attempt to tranquilize the animal in late June went bust because of the number of people who had come out to see it, Czech said.
“There was a large crowd at the scene. They were cooperative in not scaring the animal, but just their talking and gathering was not helpful, and the animal was leery and did not come out as much as usually.”
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org