Author: Farley Mowat
Notes: This is definitely one of my favorite books, though it always saddens me to read a book written over 40 years ago and realize that nothing much has changed in regard to how we treat our wild "kin". What I love about Mowat is his sense of humor - it's macabre, dark, fascinating and endearing.
Grotesque incidents occur which help to sustain the general myth about the vicious and dangerous nature of the wolf.
One such sick (rabid) and dying wolf appeared in Churchill during the 1946 epidemic. It was first encountered by a Canadian Army corporal wending his way back to barracks after a session at the Churchill beer hall. According to the corporal's account, a gigantic wolf leaped at him with murderous intent, and he barely escaped with his life by running a mile to the shelter of the guardhouse. He could exhibit no physical evidence of his ordeal, but his psychic scars were evidently deep. His warning sent the whole Army camp into a panic of near-hysterical proportions. American and Canadian contingents alike were mobilized, and squads of grim-faced men armed with rifles, carbines and spotlights were soon scouring the surrounding country intent on dealing with a menace which, in a matter of hours, had grown into several packs of starving wolves.
During the ensuing excitement eleven Husky dogs, one American Pfc, and a Chippewayan Indian coming home late because casualties - not of the wolf, but of the vigilantes.
For two days children and women stayed indoors. Foot soldiers all but vanished from the Army camp, and men on missions to distant buildings either went by jeep, well armed, or did not go at all.
A wolf was glimpsed on the second day by a light Army aircraft which had joined the hunt, and an intrepid detachment of Mounted Police sallied forth to deal with it. The wolf turned out to be a cocker spaniel belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company manager.
Not until the third day did the panic ease. Late that afternoon the driver of a six-ton Army truck, returning to the camp from the airport, suddenly saw a bundle of fur on the road ahead of him. He jammed on the brakes but was unable to stop in time, and the wolf - by then so sick it could no longer move - was mercifully killed.
The aftermath was interesting. To this day there are residents of Churchill who will, at the drop of a hat, describe the invasion of Churchill by wolves in 1946. They will tell you of desperate personal encounters; of women and children savaged; of dog teams torn to ribbons; and of an entire human community living in a stage of siege. All that is lacking is the final dramatic description of the North American equivalent of a Russian troika fleeing across the frozen plains, inevitably to be overhwlemed by a wave of wolves, while the polar night resounds to the crounching sound of human bones being cracked by wolfish jaws.