HOLMBERG: The ‘white wolf’ of Chester. Believe it.

Posted at 12:44 AM, Dec 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-18 06:43:19-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Sunday morning, Brian and Angela Gibbs-Wilson were out having a nice drive when they saw a large white figure crouched in the woods beside Chalkley Road near Ironbridge Road in southern Chesterfield.

They slowed, stopped, got out their phones to photograph and film . . .

A white wolf?

It was gnawing on a deer carcass, dragging it off deeper into the woods as it saw them watching.

They studied their cell phone photos and videos, did some research, then shared those images with CBS-6.

We also heard from Stephanie Heilser, who lives less than a mile away from where the Gibbs-Wilsons saw the wolf-like creature.

She saw what looked like a white wolf in her front yard Saturday, but no one believed her.

“Yes, that’s it,” she said when we showed her the Gibbs-Wilson photos.

A fawn had been seen wandering in that area, a neighbor said. It’s unclear if the wolf-like animal had killed it itself or took advantage of a road kill.

Wolves, let alone white wolves, haven’t  been seen naturally in Virginia for generations. Wolf hybrids have become fairly rare as pets.

Chesterfield veterinarian Colleen Kida has had some experience with wolf hybrids. She looked at the photos and said she can’t really tell for sure what it is without examining it. It  might even take DNA testing to tell for sure, she said.

Typically, wolves and wolf hybrids have yellow eyes, she said. That it was so close to the road tells her it’s probably not a purebred wolf, because they shy away from humans at all costs.

She said hybrids aren’t often dangerous unless cornered. Regardless, she said, anyone who sees it should call animal control rather than trying to solve the mystery.

To the casual observer, it sure looks like a white wolf from way up north, also known as the arctic or snow wolf. Or at the least,  a hybrid. Could it have been brought here as a pet?

If it is a wolf, it will have some seriously long canine teeth.

Chesterfield Animal Control has gotten other calls about the creature.

Once we posted pictures on Facebook and aired the story Tuesday night, several  readers and viewers in that area contacted us, saying they, too, had seen it.

And we got a call from someone who may hold the keys to this white, almost-winter mystery.

We’ll be following that, and this story,  wherever it leads.

Meanwhile, here is the old Virginia legend about “The White Wolf of French Creek” from back in the days when wolves roamed the Old Dominion.