Poet/bureaucrat's moving report of the 1921 demise of America's most notorious wolf

In 1921, the Custer Wolf — a predator so prolific and terrifying that it rated its own documentary and biography — was finally killed.

Dixon Merritt, a poet and humorist (you know, the guy who wrote "A funny old bird is a pelican/His beak can hold more than his belican"), was working for the Department of Agriculture's Division of Publications Press Service, and he wrote a beautiful, four-page report for the press about the final showdown between HP Williams ("one of the Department's best hunters") and the wolf.

After a bounty, reaching by stages from $100 to $500, failed to bring in the old criminal's scalp; after private trappers and sportsmen hunters had given up the quest; after poisons and dogs had failed, the stockmen tried a round-up. Having, as they thought, located the wolf, a large number of riders started in a great circle and closed up. This, like all the other devices, was unsuccessful. Some of the stockmen, in resignation, announced that they would have to board the wolf for the rest of his life. Others decided to send for a Government Hunter. Therefore, in March, 1920, The Bureau of Biological Survey, United States department of Agriculture, sent to Custer, H. P. Williams, one of its best hunters, with instructions to stay after the wolf until he was taken, no matter how much time was required.

Williams took with him a bunch of traps, but as the old wolf was known to be trap-wise, he expected to depend mainly on his rifle. As things turned out, he required both trap and rifle to get the wolf when he was finally taken on October 11, 1920.

  Since there is involved in this story the reputation of two geniuses, the criminal genius of the wolf and the protective genius of Williams, it may be just as well to let the account proceed in language of the predatory animal inspector who repoted the facts to the Biological Survey. It was a long time coming. Like most outdoor men, he did not want to talk in heroics. Here is the story from the time Williams went to Custer until he brought down the criminal.

World's Greatest Animal Criminal Dead [Dixon Merritt/US Department of Agriculture] [PDF]

World's greatest Animal Criminal is Dead [Dixon Merritt/Wolf Crossing] [autoplay music warning]

(via Kottke)