Canis lupus monstrabilis
Ever heard of it?
Chances are you have not. Oh, wolf fans will be familiar with the Canis lupus part but “monstrabilis”?
It is the name of the now extinct “Texas Wolf” a species recognized in 1937 and considered extinct by 1942.
Very little is known about this animal other than it inhabited the Texas Hill Country into Oklahoma and was believed to have followed the historical bison herds. When they were wiped out cattle became chief prey.
That put a target on the species as big as the state itself.
Government trapping, poisoning and bounties put all varieties of gray wolf out of business for good in Texas.
Only the Mexican gray wolf still exists and it is relegated to the progeny of released specimens from a captive breeding program all residing outside of Texas borders.
Taxonomists have reshuffled virtually everything in recent decades and this species is now sometimes lumped in with the Mexican Gray Wolf but there is no way to go back and definitely argue the case.
For now I ponder what it would be like to step out on a limestone cliff and look below to see the Texas Wolf chasing a whitetail or perhaps helping thin out some of the Edwards Plateau’s increasing exotic axis deer herd.
Now only brief mentions in wildlife journals are left to remind us once the most scenic parts of Texas were a little wilder.
What it must have been like to sleep beneath the stars and amongst the chaotic frenzy of coyote calls hear the wolf’s deep, mournful song.
At some point the last howl of the last Texas wolf sounded off.
Did someone hear it?
Did that very call alert the wrong people of its presence and lead to its demise?
To think about that almost brings a tear to my eye.
Well, maybe not almost…
Chester Moore, Jr.