Chicago Tribune

Could there be a wolf pack in Illinois? Man's trail camera footage prompts experts to conduct testing

INDUSTRY, Ill. - After snacking on fried pretzels at the Lunch Box Cafe earlier this month, Jay Smith sat in the narrow shade of his patio and started scanning video footage on a laptop.

There they were again: the mysterious, wolflike creatures.

For several years, Smith has captured trail-cam footage of the curious canines that inhabit land he and his wife manage in a remote region sometimes known as Forgottonia, about 235 miles southwest of Chicago.

A farmer, musician and amateur naturalist, Smith is convinced they're wolves. If true, that would be a shocking natural phenomenon in an area where there hasn't been a verified wolf sighting for decades.

Experts are skeptical of Smith's conclusion, but they're intrigued enough to seek further study. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Chicago's Field Museum and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are collaborating to determine exactly where these animals fall in the biological family of canids, carnivorous mammals that include wolves, coyotes, foxes and domestic dogs. The Field Museum is conducting DNA

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