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The legend of Lobo the wolf continues

January 24, 2009
By KENNETH COBB, For The Inter-Mountain

The story of Lobo had to be in two parts. Newspaper space was not available to put it into one. We ended last week when naturalist and big game hunter Ernest Thompson Seton tried to take this outlaw band of wolves with poisons and failed.

Seton had special traps on order that were large and strong, but it would be several days before they would arrive. During this time of waiting, he took it upon himself to study the habits of this pack. Twice, he found the same indications that something was not normal with this particular band of wolves. One of the signs of irregularity was a trail of a smaller wolf running ahead of the leader. At first, he did not know what this meant until a ranch hand made a remark that explained the situation.

"I saw them today", he said, "and the one that breaks away is Blanca." Blanca was a female and possibly Lobo's mate. If this had been a male, Lobo would have killed him at once.

At last, the special traps arrived and, with this recent discovery, suggested a new plan. A heifer was killed, and two small traps were obviously placed close to the carcass. The head was then removed and set apart from the carcass. Close to the head two of the large wolf traps were set and attached to the cow's head. The large traps were deodorized with great care. When everything was in place, the ground was smeared with fresh blood from the heifer as though it had flowed from the head. In addition to this, the ground was brushed over with the skin of a coyote and a paw print was made.

At daybreak next morning, Seton went to check the traps, but the location was empty. A study of the trail indicated that Lobo had kept the pack from approaching the head, but a small wolf had gone on to examine it and had walked into one of the wolf traps. Seton and his friends followed the trail for about a mile and discovered that this wolf was Blanca. The cow's head was caught in some rocks that held her fast. At first sight, Seton thought this was the best-looking wolf he had ever seen. Her coat was in perfect condition and was nearly all white.

When everyone approached, she raised her voice by sending out a long howl for help. The great Lobo answered her howl, but he did not respond most likely due to his fear of man and firearms.

The cowboys lassoed her several times and galloped their horses in different directions, ripping her body to pieces. I do not approve of this method of killing any animal. A firearm would have been much more humane.

There was much excitement that evening as everyone came back to the ranch. Here was the first deathblow to the Currumpaw Pack.

Lobo's voice sounded nearer with each howl. Whether it was his hope of finding Blanca or seeking revenge, it would never be known. The loyal watchdog was caught off-guard and torn to pieces within 100 yards of the house.

Seton later admitted in his short story that killing Blanca might have been a mistake. She could have been used for a decoy to nail Lobo that same night.

The next day, Seton set several of the special traps in groups of four within a mile of the house. He then took what was left of the body of Blanca to each location and made a drag that circled the ranch. He then cut off one of Blanca's paws and made a line of tracks over each group of traps.

Two days later while making a check of the trap circuit, there was Lobo firmly held in four of the wolf traps. He had never ceased searching for his mate. He found the scent of her body and fell into the trap arrangement carefully made for him.

As Seton approached Lobo, the wolf sent out a deep howl for his band, but none of them answered. He then ventured to touch him with his rifle barrel and Lobo left teeth marks on it. His eyes glared with hate and fury. A lasso was swung over his head, but the King of Currumpaw was still capable of resisting. He seized the noose in his teeth and cut it with one fierce chop.

Seton could have used his rifle, but he did not want to spoil the pelt. He went back to the ranch house and returned with fresh lassoes and some cowboys. They threw him a stick that he caught in his teeth, and before he could get rid of it, lassoes were tightening around his neck. He was then muzzled and secured to a horse that took him back to the ranch. The next morning, they found "the King of the Currumpaw" dead.

Seton kept the pelt, but Lobo's remains were buried with the remains of Blanca. As they laid him next to her, a cattleman remarked, "Now you are together again."?

Today, Lobo's pelt is kept at the Ernest Thompson Seton Memorial Library and Museum at the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico. In 1962, the Disney Studios made a movie about this great wolf, titled "The Legend of Lobo." His story was also the subject of a television documentary made in 2007.

Seton became one of the pioneering founders of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and was its first Chief Scout from 1910 to 1915.

If you would like to learn more about Lobo, go to any public library and ask for the book - "Wild Animals I Have Known" by Ernest Thompson Seton. This book has been in print for over 100 years and has touched the hearts of millions of readers throughout the world.



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