Everything You Wanted to Know About Wolves

I had already planned to write NEVER CRY WOLF and was starting to research wolves when I had the opportunity to participate in a Wolf Ecology Workshop in Wisconsin.

There I met a couple of “wolfmen” who resemble my hero, Donovan Wilde. They were dressed in skins wearing mocassin-type boots and head coverings made from a coyote or fox, which included the heads. They taught participants to trek through the Wisconsin snow-covered woods on snow shoes and look for signs of wolves. We learned to re-create wolf prints (I still have mine), and we examined collars and telemetry equipment and learned how they worked.

Here are some fun things I learned about wolves…

A pack consists of an alpha male, an alpha female, biders waiting for an alpha position and dispersers who will leave to try to start a pack of their own. There are also omega males or females, hanging at the back of the pack. Only the alpha male and female mate, but the whole pack takes care of the pups and yearlings.

Wolves can hear sounds at six miles, while humans can hear noises from a mile and a half at the most. If two wolves howl on the same note, one will change octaves and make it sound like three are howling.

What do wolves eat? In Wisconsin, 55% deer, 10% snowshoe hare, 15% beaver, 19% miscellaneous. Wolves hunt in pairs. A wolf can go for a week without eating, then can ingest one third of its body weight and bring it back to the pack. To share. The whole pack returns to the den after hunting to feed the pups. Pups are weaned and leave the den at 6-8 weeks.

DNR (Department of Natural Resources) state trappers trap and collar wolves to determine where they are traveling within a territory. Wisconsin is broken into blocks for volunteers to do howling surveys and tracking. Howling is a research tool, revealing how many wolves there are in a pack as well as their ages.

Wolf traps that are used to catch wolves to collar are set under soil. They consist of a chain and grappling hook and 3 grapples. “Stink bait” or urine from a different pack is used to draw them to the trap, which is checked twice per day. They are modified with metal ‘knobs’ so the trap doesn’t cause injury. The wolf’s paw is larger than its leg bone and therefore it can’t get its leg out of the trap.

A trapped wolf is tranquilized for an hour and a half. Blood samples are taken for genetic and disease testing. The trapper might pull a tooth and split it open to determine age, then collar and tag the animal’s ear. In Wisconsin, they use planes with telemetry to follow and see the wolves below.

A trapper can determine how many wolves are in a pack through their tracks. All wolves will walk in same line down the road. Their front feet are bigger than the back. One of the trappers teaching the workshop said he was able to distinguish nine wolves from one line of prints.

 

The wolf ecology weekend was a really special research event for me since I am a staunch animal advocate. I came away knowing more about how wolves operated in the wild and was able to use some of those details in NEVER CRY WOLF, and later in WOLF MOON. I hope you enjoy Donovan Wilde and his psychic connection to the black wolf that saved him when he was a child lost in the northern woods…

NEVER CRY WOLF is available at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, BN and Google

https://books.pronoun.com/never-cry-wolf/

A Gypsy’s Curse — @PRosemoor #mgtab

I’ve been a carnival junkie since I was a kid. There were a lot of them back then, and my mom was into them as much as I was, so she always took me to every school carnival in the area. I loved the rides and the games and the weird stuff.

 

Gypsy fortune tellers were nothing but fancily dressed manikins in a glass box. You put in your money and a card came out with your fortune. So to my disappointment, they weren’t real.

 

 

Mom also took me to Riverview Amusement Park, Chicago’s version of Coney Island (which I also loved when visiting relatives in New York). It was nearly a two hour haul to get to Riverview. The train downtown, the rapid transit, then a bus.

But it was as exciting as it got because they had high excitement rides like roller coasters, six of them!

(The wooden rollercoaster here is the Coney Island Cyclone)

I almost fell out of Riverview’s Silver Flash that didn’t have proper restraints for little kids. Mom caught me when I was nearly halfway off the ride. That did not squelch my enthusiasm for rollercoasters.

Riverview had a midway complete with games and barkers and kewpie dolls…and really weird stuff.  A human freak show—the four-legged girl, the armless wonder, the mule-faced woman. The one that freaked my young self out was a woman who had the bottom end of a baby coming from her stomach. I didn’t know about conjoined twins at that age. I doubt many people did.

 

What Riverview didn’t have was a live fortune teller, at least not when I was there. I had to satisfy myself with another colorfully dressed manikin in a glass box.

 

When Rebecca York and Ann Voss Peterson and I decided to write our Gypsy Magic serial novel set in the Louisiana bayou country, we wanted to start with a carnival gypsy. A real gypsy.

 

 

 

It was all over now. Her only son, her beloved son, was condemned to death. For a crime she knew he could not have committed.

She gathered her strength for what she must do. From the pocket of her long skirt the old Gypsy pulled the bandanna with the objects. The pen. The crumpled paper cup. The metal tack. None was of great value. But they held the power she needed. For each had belonged to one of the people she was going to curse tonight.

Her hand clenched the pen. “Justice is blind,” she whispered, then joined the curse with the name of Wyatt Boudreaux. “Love is death,” she intoned as she crumpled the paper cup in her hand and said the name of Garner Rousseau. Finally she picked up the tack and said, “The law is impotent,” linking those words with the name of Andrei Sobatka.

Pushing herself erect, she stood and shuffled to the edge of the bayou, smug in her satisfaction that she had evened the score.

We had a great time with the carnival background and three cursed heroes. Would they ever be able to end the curse and find happiness with the women they love?

Each of these compelling stories ends with an HEA for the hero and heroine.  But only the full set will finally get to the bottom of the murder mystery. Be sure to read them all!

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https://books.pronoun.com/wyatt/
https://books.pronoun.com/garner/
https://books.pronoun.com/andrei/