Howl at the Moon for Science | Science | Smithsonian

Howl at the Moon for Science

The Wolf Inquiry Project is looking for a few dozen people who wouldn’t mind spending a summer night in the North Woods of Maine howling for wolves and coyotes. This “howling survey” aims to discover if wolves have recolonized the state of Maine.Scientists know that coyotes are out there, but they’...

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A wolf in Quebec (courtesy of flickr user peupleloup)




The Wolf Inquiry Project is looking for a few dozen people who wouldn’t mind spending a summer night in the North Woods of Maine howling for wolves and coyotes. This “howling survey” aims to discover if wolves have recolonized the state of Maine.



Scientists know that coyotes are out there, but they’re not sure about the Eastern gray wolf. Tracks and other evidence suggest there are “wolf-like canids” in Maine, according to the state’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. And a lone wolf was shot and killed last year in Massachusetts. But there are no signs of packs or wolf reproduction in either state, and recolonization—i.e., by packs of wolves, not just one or two—of Maine would have to be by wolves from Quebec, which are effectively barred from the state by the St. Lawrence River (unless they’ve learned to build rafts or boats). It’s a bit of a conundrum, for sure.



A pilot project last year captured some intriguing recordings, according to Laura Sabastianelli, director of the Wolf Inquiry Project. Expanding the project this summer should give more baseline data. One hurdle is distinguishing wolf calls from coyote calls. Both canid species will respond to imitation calls from humans.



A training and information session will be held for interested volunteers this Saturday in Holden, Maine, or you can contact Laura Sebastianelli.
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About Sarah Zielinski
Sarah Zielinski

Sarah Zielinski is an award-winning science writer and editor. She is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com and blogs at Wild Things, which appears on Science News.

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