In late January 2014, Paula Tough had been out with a friend and their dogs near Algonquin Park when they came across what appeared to be a wolf caught in a snare. The wire had cut into the animals’ leg deeply, and the nearby damage and scat showed he had been caught for at least three or four days.
Paula took extraordinary action – with the help of a friend, she was able to cut the snare, load the animal into a crate and drive it straight down to Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.
The initial outlook was not good for the animal, who was eventually discovered to be a young Algonquin coywolf. His leg had been severely injured due to his time in the snare.
But with the hard work of volunteers and staff at Aspen Valley, as well as a whole lot of guts on the part of the coywolf, he was successfully released in the first week of August.
“His leg had to be removed, ultimately,” said Julie Woodyer of Aspen Valley, in an interview with Defender Radio. “We tried to cast it and see if it would take, but there had been too much nerve damage. And that put us in a dilemma, because releasing a three-legged animal is not a popular idea. But we felt that since there are three-legged animals that end up in that situation in the wild, it was our duty to give this animal another chance.
“Because we have large acreage enclosures and natural habitat, we have the ability to properly assess how the animal will be able to negotiate and run and jump over obstacles,” she added. “We went through that process, we rehabilitated him – he was in our hospital setting for a number of months and then in the large enclosure. He took to it right away – by the time mid-summer had rolled around, he was negotiating his way through that environment with ease, and even hunting.”
Prior to his release, the coywolf was fitted with a radio collar for monitoring and a DNA sample was taken so his scat can be tracked and tested.
So far, he has travelled to and from his original release point and most recently began heading due north.
Aspen Valley has documented the rehab and release of the coywolf thoroughly, hoping to use it as a case study for future releases of three-legged animals.
Hear the full interview and more details about the rehabilitation and release of the Algonquin coywolf on next week’s episode of Defender Radio.