Wolves in the Wiregrass

When Wiregrass pioneers came to settle the area of present day Ray City and Berrien County, GA this section of the state was an untamed frontier. As Montgomery Folsom described,  in the 1830s it was “a country that was well supplied with Indians, bears, panthers, wolves and other unfriendly neighbors…”  Earlier posts on this site have recounted tales of the Berrien tiger.  A Brief History of Cook County, Adel, Georgia goes on, “The country was full of wild animals. Fox and wild turkey hunts were great sports. The wolves often came out of the creeks and branches at night and devoured fat hogs and calves if these were not carefully housed. Many did they get even in the day time. Bears were not infrequent.

An early wiregrass pioneer defense against wolves was the wolf pit. An 1880 newspaper article describes a wolf trap:

The Atlanta Weekly Constitution April 20, 1880   Pg 4

Roundabout in Georgia

Berrien County News:  While in Irwin last week we were shown a wolf pit.  It shows signs of antiquity, and we learned that it had been dug more than fifty years.  The pit is situated close to the road, and about a quarter of a mile north of Brushy Creek church.  It is a circular ditch about three or four feet wide and perhaps eight feet deep.  There is small island in the center, on which is placed the carcass of a deer or sheep, or any bait that will tempt the appetite of the wolf.  Slender reeds are placed across the ditch, and they are thinly covered with straw.  This gives it the appearance of the surrounding woods and the wolf does not hesitate to step boldly on the slender bridge, when he lands at the bottom, where he impatiently awaits the arrival of the executioner the next morning.  This pit was dug by Mr. Jacob Paulk and the late Captain Daniel Henderson, when the latter was a young man.  It is one of the relics of the primitive days of Irwin, when steel traps were unknown, or at least not “come-at-able,” and when the red man made forays on this section in quest of the nimble deer and other choice game.

Newspaper accounts document the killing of a notorius wolf in Irwin county in 1878.  The stuffed wolf was displayed at the county fair.

The Irwin County Wolf, 1878.

The Irwin County Wolf, 1878.

The Albany News
May 23, 1878  pg 3

That Irwin County Wolf.

In the north basement of the Main Building [Irwin County Fair] may be seen a stuffed wolf one of the largest ever captured in any forest. It is the famous  ‘Irwin county wolf.’ A card is tacked on the neck of the animal which bears the following:

THE IRWIN COUNTY WOLF. killed November 6th, 1876, by Jacob Tussell, for which he received $150 reward.  The wolf is supposed to have killed 500 head of sheep in Irwin and Coffee counties.

[signed]  M. C. Austin

Even as late as 1908 there were news account of a large wolf in Colquitt county . Wolves are said to have been exterminated in Georgia in th 1960s.

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