Have Wolves Returned to New Hampshire?

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Wolves in New Hampshire?

A couple of weeks ago as I was driving home from work at night an animal ran out of the forest and across the road in front of my car.  I saw it clear as day.  It was a wolf...or, at least it looked like the wolves I've seen on TV and in movies.  I told my husband about it, but he said I probably saw a coy dog, not a wolf.  Well, I've seen coy dogs before and this was definitely NOT an eastern coyote.  And its appearance was wild and not domesticated.

Being an obsessive Googler, I searched online for photos of wolves (yup, the animal I Gray wolf - photo from Google Imagessaw looked just like the gray wolves I found in the Google images - example at right), but the news articles I found online indicated that there have been no confirmed sightings or killings of wild wolves in New Hampshire in many, many years.

I didn't tell anyone else but my husband about my wolf sighting because I didn't want people to start thinking of me as the next Big Foot-type lunatic!

This morning my officemate, Debbie Duffy, arrived at work and excitedly told me that she'd just seen a wolf run across Rt. 49 (the state highway that connects Waterville Valley to the rest of the world).  She, too, Googled wolf photos online and confirmed that, indeed, the animal she saw was a gray wolf.

I was so excited to hear about her sighting and described the animal I had seen to her.  "Yes," she exclaimed, "that sounds just like what I saw." 

Hmmmm...is it possible that wolves have returned to New Hampshire? 

There is a deep cultural fear of wolves.  Think "Little Red Riding Hood." 

According to information I found online, the gray wolf has been persecuted by man for centuries.  In New England the gray wolf was hunted to extinction by the mid 1800s. 

In October of 2007, a wolf was shot in a rural area of northern Massachusetts. The animal had been reported to state biologists after a rash of sheep killings on a farm in the area. The day after biologists investigated, the animal was shot by someone other than the farmer. The biologists would not name the guilty party but stomach contents of the animal confirmed that it was predating on sheep.

It was originally assumed that the animal was an escaped wolf but this has proven not to be the case. Biologists and conservationists have long thought that the recovering eastern Canadian population of gray wolves was likely to move south into the areas of northern New England and upstate New York where appropriate habitat exists. It appears that they were right.

According to my research, young male wolves often separate from the pack over the summer and fall to hunt independently.  I wonder if that's why Debbie and I saw a lone wolf. 

Eric Orff, a Certified Wildlife Biologist, said that New Hampshire, with land that is 90 percent wooded (and Waterville Valley is completely surrounded by the 770,000-acre White Mountain National Forest) and thriving populations of moose, deer and beaver -- prime wolf foods -- has many of the right habitat ingredients to support a wolf population. Within the next few decades, we may see wolves return to New Hampshire on their own.

Cheers!  Jan

 Jan Stearns, Waterville Valley Realty


Waterville Valley Realty

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Jan Stearns

Comments (89)


Just got back from camping at Pawtuckaway State Park and my girlfriend and I heard a wolf howling all night long deep within the forest. No bird will make that sound and we know a coyotes calling. It was such a beautiful howl and so loud. I tried to record it the second night because it was so amazing but slept through the night.

Sep 27, 2015 01:47 PM

Oh and to add, it was quite sad to hear the wolf howl so long and so loud because after awhile it sounded as if it were a distress call. Which makes sense if in NH a wolf would be solo and away from its pack. That's why I was in disbelief at first due to the fact that I know they are pack animals. It seemed as if there was only one, maybe two after calling back and forth. Pretty amazing to hear as long as not outside our tent. Lol.

Sep 27, 2015 01:53 PM

Saw a lone wolf caught in my headlights as I came home last night after midnight, as I came down my diveway across my open field by the river in Exeter NH. He was a bit confused but not panicky, went one way, then the other as my headlights went to bright and followed him, before loping away.

Nov 08, 2015 09:00 PM
Bill Garvey

Saw what looked like a wolf in Londonderry not long ago. 1am crossed in front of my truck,stopped and we stared each other down for about 15 seconds at about 30 ft under a streetlight. Got a real good look

Jan 02, 2016 11:30 AM
Paula Green

I live in Nottingham and just this past Thursday about 5pm or so my son who is in his 30's was sitting in his living room which has a view of our very wooded yard. When a very large animal came walking out of the woods and across our property. Yes with out a doubt a wolf. I have been reading a lot of articles about them repopulating the area and I am a firm believer they r truly here and we need to respect them.

Jan 09, 2016 12:35 AM
P. Jacques

I live in Raymond and go to work for 1am. On my way in on Rt 27 on the Raymond/E. Candia line a wolf ran across the road. I had my high beams on as there was no traffic out at that time, it was way to big to be a coyote. Shepperd looking but bigger, and looking like the one in the picture above. The only one I have told is my wife, because everyone else will think I'm nuts. I need to get a dash cam, but the chance of this happening again are slim to none....

Jan 30, 2016 07:51 AM

I live in Deerfield, NH. Twice over the past four months we have been visited by a howler (wolf type howl). The first time he came with a pack of coyotes who yipped to his howl, the second time, earlier this evening he was alone and howled for a couple minutes. Hybrid? Wolf?

Apr 15, 2016 12:47 PM
J Michlik

This past fall, my boyfriend told me he saw a wolf coming home from work. He works in Methuen so he had a good hour and a half ride home to New Ipswich. He said he had just gotten into New Hampshire and a giant dog, he said it was definitely too big to be a coyote or anything like it, ran across the road in front of him. I'm not sure if I believe him, although, I would love it if wolves made a comeback in NH. Also, a coworker of mine told me a short story once. She told me, I don't remember when, that wolves used to be in NH. They were herded up to the top of Mt. Monadnock and set on fire, killing them all. That made me angry. If they're supposed to be here, let them be.

Mar 11, 2017 02:24 PM

I live in Pelham NH. I observed two very large white animals run out of the woods and across my yard yesterday morning. I live on 20+ acres and almost all of it are woods. It connects to a few nature corridors. I was in the bathroom when the white caught my eye. At first I thought they were dogs, perhaps huskies. Then when I saw 2 I thought it was strange that I've never notice 2 white dogs that big before. Looking back I think they were wolves. The looked wild and not domestic and were too large to be coyotes. I have lived in southern NH my entire life and have never seen animal like that before. The fact that they were white really throws me. Wolves in NH? I'm a little nervous as I have small children. I also feel extremely lucky to have witnessed the sighting!

Jun 01, 2017 06:47 AM

I agree with the last commenter. I just saw a wolf. Too many ignorant hunters flocking here for so-called freedom. It's sickening. I'm from CA and just saw a wolf here in NH and it was amazing. I have a petite 7 year old girl and I'm not feeling in danger at all and I'm in the middle of the woods. Humans are so ridiculously cruel and many hunters are downright narcissistic and ignorant in every sense of the words.

Jun 24, 2017 02:44 AM

I saw the exact same thing. A couple nights ago. It didn't look like a coyote or anything else for that matter. Everything was the same as the wolf in that picture. I'm positive it was a wolf!!!

Jul 23, 2017 11:03 PM

Oh and I forgot to mention. I live in Durham nh in a rural area. I have heard what sounded like wolves howling before I actually saw one. I am so happy I got to see it. Made my day for sure. Such beautiful creatures!!!

Jul 23, 2017 11:07 PM

Your article brought me comfort. I too saw what I know in my gut was a Timberwolf based on pictures I’d googled. It was a darker color, almost black and also alone. I had the pleasure of being within 10 feet of it, with my porch glass between us. Piercing eyes, long thin legs, fluffy tail, thick rustled coat, long narrow nose. It was a wolf. No question. Big as a German Shepherd, which is what I believed it to be until it came up on my porch, and took off faster than any dog I’d ever seen when it heard me click the lock in the door. My husband still doesn’t believe me.

Jan 07, 2018 01:06 PM
Jan Stearns
Jan Stearns, Waterville Valley Realty, Waterville Valley, NH - Waterville Valley, NH
Marketing Director for Waterville Valley Realty

Thanks for stopping by and posting your story, Kathy.  We're not crazy...wolves - or some form of hybrid - are here in New Hampshire!  They are beautiful creatures. 

Jan 08, 2018 05:57 AM

A few weeks ago in center barnstead nh, my daughter and I were leaving my grandmothers house around 10 pm. My daughter saw something cross the street, she said it was bigger then a dog and more muscular then a coy dog. We saw it walking in the dark slowly it stopped looked at us and went into the woods were no houses were around. I turned around to get another look but it was gone. I really think it was a wolf or a hybrid of something.

Feb 01, 2018 03:33 AM
Yvonne Borghetti

Is there anyone that could take a look at a video we have of what we think is a wolf? We have a wildlife camera in our backyard (Salem NH, a couple of acres with lots of woods around us) and we saw what looked like a wolf. Definitely bigger than a coyote, and it had the distinctive black circle on the back of its tail. The pictures I've looked at online of wolves look like what we have on the video, not coyotes.

Mar 03, 2018 12:12 PM
Jan Stearns
Jan Stearns, Waterville Valley Realty, Waterville Valley, NH - Waterville Valley, NH
Marketing Director for Waterville Valley Realty

Hi Yvonne - and thanks for sharing your story.  I'm not sure who you would share the video with, but perhaps you could start by contacting New Hampshire Fish and Game.  Their phone number is 271-3421.  Good luck!

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(603) 271-3421

Mar 05, 2018 12:20 PM

My father saw a gray wolf in Rochester, NH last Weds night. It was howling & yelping, but didn't appear to be in distress. He got a good look at it as it went under a street light (he's in a small neighborhood but it's heavily wooded all around) and feels certain that's what he saw.

Jun 04, 2018 02:30 PM

I saw a wolf today in Hampstead, I was walking the conservation. And out of the corner of my eye there he was trotting past me around 100 ft to my right. He was massive, well over 110 pds. Scared the bejesus out of me. I still can’t believe I seen it with my own eyes. My husband says maybe it was a coy wolf? No this was a wolf wolf..

Sep 06, 2018 03:33 PM

I was back in New Hampshire for Christmas and my in-laws told us a grey wolf crossed Rt. 28 in front of there car, near Center Barnstead, the week prior. They said it paused in the road and they got a good look at it. Found this comment chain after I read other sites that claimed there were no wolves in NH. Sure seems like there may indeed be a couple. Exciting.

Jan 07, 2019 07:27 AM