From the you-just-never-know department comes a tale about a large wolf - yes, a wolf - shot this week in Sandusky County:
Dusty Gore of Bellevue and his wife, Tracy, were headed toward Fremont Monday on County Road 205, just south of U.S. 20 between Bellevue and Clyde.
Just about the time they were behind York School, which fronts on U.S. 20, "I spotted what I thought was a coyote in a field about 200 yards from the school," said the 28-year-old Gore. He wheeled around and headed home where he grabbed his varmint rifle.
To shorten the story a mite, Gore shot the beast and went to retrieve it on a three-wheeler. "I didn't realize it was a wolf when I shot. I thought it was an exceptionally large coyote."
Gore took it to Bellevue taxidermist Brian Weider, who in turn notified Brian Bury, state game protector in Sandusky County.
Bury confirmed that the animal indeed was a wolf. He said he has received at least a dozen calls about "a pack of wolves" and added this: "Two more got away. This was a large male, at least 100 pounds. They [the pack] have been covering about a 10-mile area the last few days.
Gore weighed the wolf on a grain scale and it hung between 120 and 140 pounds.
Free-ranging wolves are not found in the wild in Ohio these days, the species' wild breeding populations long ago having been eradicated. But some people keep wolves, or at least wolf-dog crosses.
The nearest known wild populations of wolves are in Michigan's upper peninsula - pegged at 584 in last winter's count. That is at least 350 miles or more from northwest Ohio - quite a ways even though wolves have been known to travel 470 miles, according to Michigan tagging studies.
"We're still trying to get some information on this animal," said Scott Butterworth, wildlife management supervisor for Ohio Wildlife District 2 at Findlay. After a look at several photos, he said, "my guess is that it's not a pure wolf.
"We have no reports of any wolves coming down from Michigan. More than likely it's one of those hybrid animals you can buy as a pet, and someone released it intentionally or it got away."
Butterworth noted Ohio has no rule that protects wolves, and no prohibition against shooting them. Because there are no known wild breeding populations of wolves here, the species is not on the official state game or wildlife lists.
As such wolves would fall into a gray area of being nonentities, much like any stray captive cougars that have been reported and which likely escaped or were dumped. Face it, owners of such potentially dangerous creatures - there are captive bobcats among others - likely are not going to come forward to claim the escapees, lest they become liable for any deaths or damages.
Any wolf observations should be directed to Wildlife District 2, 419-424-5000.
In Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment is continuing through the month its annual winter wolf survey. The MDNRE is particularly interested in any sighting from the northern lower peninsula. So far most reports have turned out to be dog tracks, though one set of tracks in Cheboygan County in the northeast lower peninsula may have promise, according to reports.
Michigan wolf reports can be posted online at michigan.gov/wolves. Wolves currently are federally protected in Michigan.
On the rivers - Walleye are moving up the Maumee and Sandusky rivers, and action is improving slowly.
On the Sandusky River at downtown Fremont, Brian Bury, state wildlife officer for Sandusky County, summed it up like this: "Walleye are being snagged in fair to good numbers in Fremont. Water is average level and muddy. Not too many legal fish yet."
It is illegal to keep a snagged, or foul-hooked walleye. Other special rules for the river runs are found in the 2010 Ohio fishing digest.
The Maumee River also was receding from its recent crest, but still about three feet above normal. Wading to Blue Grass Island at Side Cut Metropark, and other popular wading sites, still is not possible. But water temperature is 44 degrees or so, which is near ideal, according to Gary Lowry at Maumee Tackle.
Most of western Lake Erie is now open water, the Ohio Division of Wildlife station at Sandusky reports. Recently boats have been making it out of the Catawba Island State Park ramp and the Mazurik ramp to fish for walleye, but near-shore ice west of Port Clinton is limiting lake access.
Craig Aust at Herb's Sportsman Supplies east of Port Clinton said Catawba State Park is ice free, and boaters are launching from there.
Contact Steve Pollick at: