Close tries, but wolf-dog still eludes capture

Posted: June 30, 2012

The elusive wolf-dog of Pennypack Park was still on the loose Thursday, but could be closer to a safe apprehension.

After getting a good look earlier in the day, Kasey Lyons said he was sure the animal was indeed the timber wolf-Alaskan malamute mix he purchased while living in Florida this year.

"I was 10 feet away from him, and he is Levi," Lyons said. "He started coming to me when I called him."

But a stranger also approached, perhaps hoping to be helpful, and that spooked the animal.

With his other dog, Tiny, a yellow Lab-bulldog mix, Lyons tracked the animal for a while along Pennypack Creek, but eventually the woods got too thick and the pursuit seemed pointless.

"Hopefully, I'll have better luck tomorrow," he said.

Just as Lyons was leaving, though, workers for the Pennsylvania Game Commission were heading back to the park, having heard reports of new sightings.

Earlier in the week, assisted by a couple of men from a wolf sanctuary in Lititz, Pa., Game Commission agents made a series of attempts at capture using traps, nets, snare poles, and sedative-laced hot dogs.

A tranquilizer dart even snagged the animal Tuesday evening, but the search party had no luck in the darkness.

Searchers took Wednesday off, to give the animal time to recover and, they hoped, feel comfortable enough to appear in clearings again.

That was the day Lyons first ventured into the woods in search of his missing Levi.

Thursday afternoon, authorities were just learning how to contact Lyons, who said that after talking to his former fiancee, he had decided to surrender the pet.

The puppy was Lyons' gift to her for Valentine's Day. She doesn't want it back.

And no, Lyons said, the escape had nothing to do with their breakup.

Wolf-dog hybrids are illegal without a special permit in Pennsylvania, so the animal, if DNA testing proves it is part wolf, would wind up at a state-licensed facility, such as a wolf sanctuary, according to wildlife conservation officer Jerry Czech of the Game Commission.

"I just want to make sure that he's going to be safe and taken care of, and that he's out of harm's way," Lyons said.

Wildlife agents will likely try to team up with Lyons to make another attempt. Czech said Thursday that a former owner would have the best chance of getting close to the wary, wily carnivore.

Levi got loose March 13 during a walk along Rhawn Street. The timing fits reports that the mystery beast had been seen for two or three months.

Wolf-dog hybrids tend to become aloof and more independent as they grow up, according to experts.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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