There’s a monument near Brora, 60 miles short of John o’Groats, that claims to mark the spot where the last wolf in Sutherland was killed. I pass it often in the car. The wolf, it says, was killed by the hunter Polson in or about the year 1700. I know this story. Polson, so it goes, was standing watch outside the wolf’s lair while his sons laid waste to the pups inside. When the she-wolf returned from the hunt, racing to the aid of her young, she bounded past the hunter and, as she did, he grabbed her by the tail. From inside the den – now plunged into darkness as Polson and the wolf struggled at its entrance – came, in Gaelic, a shout of alarm: “Father! What’s blocking the light?” To which Polson replied: “If the tail comes away at the root, you’ll soon find out!” It’s an unlikely story, even as such stories go. The history of wolves is saturated with this kind of machismo and mythmaking. Here are all its stock ingredients: the lupine villain, the plucky hunter, the lucky break. Did it really happen? Probably not. Still, whether Polson is to blame or not, there… Read full this story
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