Prairie Wolf Park
Did you know ... at one time wolves roamed freely throughout Gaines Charter Township? In an attempt to preserve history for the enjoyment of future generations, the Gaines Charter Township Parks and Recreation Committee has established a forty-five acre passive use park for the enjoyment of young and old alike. You may enjoy sitting on the creek-bank, basking in the summer sun and watching a pair of ducks; or maybe while taking a walk or running on the trails you will catch a glimpse of nesting bluebirds, deer, or other animals. In the winter the trails are available for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. We invite you to explore the land where the Prairie Wolf ran free.
The Story of the Gull Prairie WolfFrom A History and Directory of Kent County, 1870
Compiled and Published by Dillenback & Leavitt, about 1870
“About the year 1848, there was a wolf who had her beat from this vicinity to Gull Prairie, in Barry County, and was known as the “Gull Prairie wolf,” who usually made the round trip once a week. (Better time than the early stages.) The dogs would not molest her, and she seemed to fear neither man nor beast. She had been caught once in a steel trap, and all efforts to entrap her again were for a long time unsuccessful. Even the children, in time, learned to distinguish her voice from other wolves, and were in the habit of listening for her on certain nights. She seldom disappointed them, and made night hideous with her dismal howls.
She finally killed four sheep in one night on the premises of Mr. Mesnard…[and a neighbor], who lived near, requested the owner to leave one of the carcasses which Madame wolf had partially devoured, and he did so. Mr. Jones and Orson Cook then held a council of war. It was determined to make one more effort to entrap her. Accordingly two traps were set about the carcass. But on her next visit she contrived to remove the carcass several rods, taking care to avoid the traps. Four were set—placing the intermediate spaces small pieces of iron, which were left in sight, while the traps were carefully concealed. This time they outwitted her. For after visiting two barns in the neighborhood, and trying to obtain a fresh quarter of mutton, she went and put her identical game foot into one of the traps.
Early on the following morning, Messrs. Jones and Cook took the trail in pursuit. They obtained a glimpse of their victim near the present residence of Mr. Blake, on section 15, and, after following her to the vicinity of Duncan Lake, in Barry County, succeeded in getting her headed toward home. They followed and overtook her on section 25, in Gaines. She ‘caved in,’ completely vanquished, and submitted to being bound with bark and slung to a pole; our two hunters being resolved to carry her back alive to the scene of her recent murders. A thing, by the way, much easier resolved than executed. For they were soon satisfied to leave all but the pelt, for which they received one dollar, and ten and a half dollars in the shape of County and State bounties. They soon after caught a neighbor’s boy by the heel, in one of the same traps. A large, good natured specimen of the ‘Genus Yankee,’ about twenty years of age, who, anxious to become versed in all the mysteries of woodcraft, was peering about to see how a wolf trap was set. He found out—as well as how one was sprung. His cries soon brought his father to his assistance, and gave the wolf hunters no further trouble.”
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