After Trapper's Passing, the AIMS Team Tracks the Wolves of West Virginia on Mountain Monsters

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Mountain Monsters Wolves of West Virginia

The cryptid-chasing series Mountain Monsters returns to the Travel Channel, starting out on a somber note. The series went on a bit of a hiatus after the AIMS team leader, Trapper John Tice, passed away back in December 2019, and now the team prepares to move on without him. But though Trapper himself is gone, his leadership and guidance remain, as his daughters pass along to the team his journal, full of a lifetime's worth of information on cryptids and a special note for the hunters: if they want to continue, "Go to the blue marker and take it from there."

The blue marker is a bookmark in the journal itself, and it details a beaver trapping expedition Trapper went on in 1974, in the Tygart Valley of northern West Virginia, during which time he encountered a wolf. Now, if you're expecting this to be some sort of giant, skinwalking wolf, that is not the case. It's a regular run-of-the-mill wolf. The macguffin is that there are not supposed to be wolves in West Virginia -- they were hunted to extinction in the region by 1900, The team theorizes that this may have been Trapper's first encounter with something in the woods that wasn't thought to be there, and may have set him on his life's path of wondering, "What else is out there?" Re-energized, the team takes up the call to go wolf hunting.

Their first visit is to a farmer who took video of a wolf near his cow pasture. And while the team is there looking at the video (at night), something is spooking the cattle. Sudden loud noises behind the barn cause them to go out and check on things, but all they find is a little leftover afterbirth from a calving that might have drawn a wolf by its scent. That's when Jeff picks up something on the thermal camera behind Buck, and they go chasing after it, finding themselves in the area where Trapper wrote of in his journal. Realizing that where there is one wolf, there are more wolves, its decided they should come back in the daylight when they can see to scope out the area better and make a plan for building a trap.

Willy's plan to build the trap is to create a cage with a drop-down door tied to the bait inside. The hope is that they'll not just trap a wolf, but a whole pack. But as he tries to describe the "double-tower steel cage" trap, Bill interrupts. Bill's thought is that since Trapper was hunting beaver during his encounter, perhaps the beaver were the wolves' food source. So he unveils the most raggedy-ass looking stuffed beaver the world has ever seen, with dental work that's a close match to Bill's own.

Scouting out the area, Jeff finds some bone and hair -- a kill site which he determines to have been a canine kill of a beaver. Then there's another loud jump-scare snap, and the team is off to chase it. They can see where the water is still disturbed in the creek it crossed, and the trail an animal would take. That's when Buck finds something on the trail partly buried in the mud: a very old and worn leather collar with a brass buckle, and a small leather pouch holding a bit of an electronic transistor board. Jeff identifes the pieces as being a "tracking collar" such as those scientists put on wolves in the 1960 to track wolf migrations, and theorizes that at least one of those wolves must have made its way to the Tygart Valley.

Meeting with yet another group of farmers, he tells them he's been losing calves to an animal that he's been told is a coyote -- but it's too big to be a coyote. He shows them a photo he took of the track in the snow and mud of a large canine paw print, which prompted him to set up his own trail camera. The second picture is from that trail cam, and it clearly sows a wolf in the shot. Moreover, it's a different wolf than the one they saw in the earlier photo, confirming there are more than one in the area.

Now fully informed as to what they are tracking, the episode comes to a close until next week. But before we go, Huckleberry has to wonder if the team wasn't sent there by Trapper to find something more than just wolves. And the previews would indicate that this is, indeed, correct, as we get references to "smoke wolves," as well as indications of more forest sculptures and yet another sasquatch encounter in the episodes to come.