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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

Gray Wolf

Capt. Clark, June 30, 1804--Set out verry early this morning, a verry large wolf came to the bank and looked at us this morning . . .

Capt. Clark, July 7, 1804--Killed a Wolf.

Capt. Clark, September 18, 1804--The large Wolves are verry numourous, they are of a light colr large & has long hair with Coarse fur.

Capt. Clark, September 21, 1804--at the Mouth of this river the two hunters a head left a Deer and its Skin also the Skin of a White wolf.

Capt. Clark, Oct 20, 1804--The wind hard all Day from the N.E. & East, great numbers of buffalow Swimming the river I observe near all large gangues of Buffalow wolves and when the buffalow move those animals follow, and feed upon those that are killed by accident or those that are too pore or fat to keep up with the gangue.

Capt. Clark, December 7, 1804-- all meat which is left out all night falls to the Wolves which are in great numbers, always in [the neighbourhood of] the Buffalows.

While on the Missouri above the Yellowstone River -

Capt. Lewis, May 5, 1805--The large woolf found here is not as large as those of the atlantic states. they are lower and thicker made shorter leged. their colour which is not effected by the seasons, is a grey or blackish brown and every intermediate shade from that to a creen [cream] coloured white; these wolves resort [to] the woodlands and are also found in the plains, but never take refuge in the ground or burrow so far as I have been able to inform myself. we scarcely see a gang of buffaloe without observing a parsel of those faithfull shepherds on their skirts in readiness to take care of the mamed wounded. the large wolf never barks, but howls as those of the atlantic states do.

Capt. Lewis, May 14, 1805--I felt an inclination to eat some veal and walked on shore and killed a very fine buffaloe calf and a large woolf, much the whitest I had seen, it was quite as white as the wool of the common sheep.

Capt. Lewis, July 8, 1806--I killed a very large and the whitest woolf I have seen.

Capt. Lewis, July 10, 1806--saw vast herds of buffaloe in the evening below us on the river. we he[a]rd them bellowing about us all night. vast assemblages of wolves.

Clark describes a 9 day hunting trip. The following passage describes the risk of wolves taking their hard-won provisions, but it also describes how far afield they went looking for game and how they worked to get it back to camp.

Capt. Clark, Feb 13 1805--5th Day – Despatched one of the party our interpeter and 2 french men with the 3 horses loaded with the best of the meat to the fort 44 miles Distant, the remaining meat I had packed on the 2 Slays & drawn down to the next point about 3 miles below, at this place I had all the meat collected which was killed yesterday.& drawn down to the next point about 3 miles below, at this place I had all the meat collected which was killed yesterday & had escaped the Wolves, Ravin & Magpie; (which are verry noumerous about this place) and put into a close pen made of logs to secure it from the wolves & birds & proceeded on to a large bottom [roughly, a river channel above the water line] nearly opposit the Chisscheter (heart) River, in this bottom we found but little game, Great No. of Wolves, on the hills Saw Several Parsels of Buffalow. Camped. I killed a Buck.

Capt. Lewis, June 14, 1805--I set one man about preparing a s[c]affold and collecting wood to dry the meat Sent the others to bring in the ballance of the buffaloe meat, or at least the part which the wolves had left us, for those fellows are ever at hand, ready to partake with us the moment we kill a buffaloe; and there is no means of putting the meat out of their reach in those plains; the two men who shortly returned with the meat informed me that the wolves had devoured the greater part of the meat.

Lewis describes in great detail how the Indians, by disguising themselves in buffalo heads and skins, manage to stampede hundreds of buffalo over a precipice into a mangled heap of corpses at the bottom, some of which remained when the Corps passed by. Towards the end of this narrative, he describes the wolves.

Capt. Lewis, May 29, 1805--we saw a great many wolves in the neighbourhood of the mangled carcases they were fat and extreemly gentle, Capt. C. who was on shore killed one of them with his espontoon.

Clark also briefly describes the carcasses, then the wolves.

Capt. Clark, May 29, 1805--Great numbers of wolves were about this place & verry jentle. I killed one of them with my spear.

Capt. Lewis, July 14, 1806--the hunters killed a couple of wolves, the buffaloe have almost entirely disappeared. saw the bee martin. the wolves are in great numbers howling arround us and loling about in the plains in view at the distance of two or three hundred yards.

Capt. Lewis, July 17, 1806--the grass is naturally but short and at present has been rendered much more so by the graizing of the buffaloe, the whole face of the country as far as the eye can reach looks like a well shaved bowling green, in which immence and numerous herds of buffaloe were seen feeding attended by their scarcely less numerous sheepherds the wolves.

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