Bears – Wolves – Panthers 1775

What a contrast in viewing wild animals in 200 years.

This past month [August / September 1975] a bear family has provided entertainment and some trepidation for a family with apple trees north of here. Of course the bears do not visit the trees in the open field but pass them for a tree within 40 yards of the living room window. The tree is now  thoroughly bear-pruned of good and poor branches alike.

There is the other side.  One keeps a watchful eye in going to the garden and on the household pits. This is both day and night as the visits of the bears occur any time. Officials are reluctant to attempt capturing the animals to remove them to higher ground because of recent deer tragedies. One man said he’d shoot any bear he saw as they have wrecked his honey business for the year.

Disaster struck this bear family as one cub was killed on the Northway. They will doubtless meet death with the trigger happy sports who• are waiting for the season to open — and it won’t be for the excuse of killing for food.

Two hundred years ago the people of Skenesborough would not be enjoying the antics of bears or other wild animals. Their domestic animals had to be securely penned to be safe from the marauders coming out of the forests. A bear often seized a lamb and ran off with it.

Wolves were a menace.  Mrs. Tryphena Wright of Northeast Skenesborough kept her eight sheep locked in a tree stump at night. But one night the wolves gained entrance, killed all eight and scattered parts of the bodies around the clearing and nearby woods.

Panthers also were a source of terror. If you’ve ever heard their screech, you know the feeling of having your hair stand on end. These animals were common in the woods around Skenesborough. Not man but the domestic animals were their prey, as witnessed by the ancestors of the late Wheaton Bosworth as they fled from the animal stalking their team.

Knowing the depredations of these wild animals, one can understand the last round-up of wolves in Kingsbury which sent the survivors to the hills of Dresden.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – September 11 1975

N.Y. State Agricultural Society, Vol. 1848 & 1849

From the story of Tryphena Wright and the sheep she kept at night in a hollowed tree, it is known that Whitehall early settlers raised sheep. One learned article on sheep declared that it was profitable to raise 100 animals on 100 acres. It would take twelve tons of hay to keep 100 or 3 percent of their weight per day. In 1845 -Washington County lead the state in the amount of wool produced. The number of sheep was 190,311 and the number per acre 64.
The Merino and Saxon strains of sheep were introduced into the county in the 1820’s and the production rose. In Whitehall in 1825 there were 6125, ninth in the county; in 1825, there were 9966, eleventh in the county; in 1845 there were 13,791, ninth in the county.
There were enemies of sheep. In 1786 a wolf tax was levied. For proof of their destruction the collector had to see the head of the wolf and then he cut off the ears so that a bounty could not be collected again. Foxes were the next in killing, especially, young lambs. The third was dogs. At this time the practice’ of killing any dog that was molesting sheep was begun. The last great wolf hunt occurred in the Kingsbury in 1801. Foxes were prevalent in Putnam.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – March 17, 1988