Dr. McCleery Lobo Wolves Digital Archive

Wolf - or Coyote - or Whatisit: Heated Controversy Developed Here Over "Whatisit" Kill in the Late 30's [Article in Kane Republican: Special Edition]


This article describes the controversy over the identity of a pack of animals first seen in 1937. Two were captured by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and sent to the Harrisburg Zoo where they were classified as coyotes. Dr. E. H. McCleery identified the one he inspected (which weighed 40 pounds) to be a fine young specimen of Canadian timber wolf, while the Pennsylvania Game Commission believed the animals to be coyotes and attempted to eradicate them.

Hunters and trappers called the animals "whatisits" and enjoyed hunting the difficult-to-catch animals. Vern Alcorn of Kane brought down the first of the animals - one of the smallest of the pack, weighing 50 pounds - and a photo of him with the "whatisit" is included in the article.

The article includes an editor's note reporting that an animal identical to the "whatisits" of the late 1930s was killed in Potter County during the recent big game season, suggesting that these animals still roam the area.

Dr. McCleery mentions that only two wolves have ever escaped from his park and both were slain. At the time, Dr. McCleery had nearly 40 wolves.

An excerpt from the article is quoted below.


February 20, 1962

Page Numbers

Supplement: Special "Dr. McCleery-Wolves" Edition, Page 2


This supplemental special edition is not available on microfilm. A copy is currently owned by the Kane Depot and is available for viewing there.

Partial Text

On October 7, several weeks after the traps were set, a young member of the pack was caught. Game Protector Ted Carlson, of Johnsonburg, was notified and removed the animal, weighing about 40 pounds, to a cage which was transported to Owl's Nest where hundreds of persons viewed it.

Among them was Dr. E. H. McCleery, recognized as one of the foremost authorities in this country on wolves and the owner of a huge lobo pack. After a close examination he stated "it is unquestionably a Canadian timber wolf," adding that it was a fine young specimen.

He said he believed the animal came down from Canada, crossing the ice in the severe Winter of 1936. Questioned concerning possibility that some of his pack had escaped, he reported only two had ever escaped and both were slain by hunting parties a few miles from his park. The McCleery pack contains nearly two score lobos, the largest wolves in the world.