Review: The Spine of the Continent


Thanks to Andrew Gottleib, the awesome Reviews Editor for A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments, my write up on The Spine of the Continent is now online.

If you haven’t checked out yet, by all means do so. This site offers much to lovers of nature, of poetry, art, story and music. Terrain is an ecclectic blend that helps us understand the interface of humans and the natural world, providing incentives to live in a more sustainable way. Their creation is truly about “the soul of place.”


The Spine of the Continent details the problems created by cutting animals off from the pathways they have traveled for centures. It also presents a solution, one that has evolved over time and is aided by modern science and technology. Please check out the review and “like” the FB link at the bottom. I’m posting the first paragraph here to pique your interest.

Enjoy, and be sure and read the book!

SOC cover


Beckie Elgin reviews The Spine of the Continent, by Mary Ellen Hannibal


Since 1872, when Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill that made Yellowstone our first national park, our country has been proud of its public lands. But these islands of safe spaces aren’t enough for the species that inhabit them; nature must have the ability to move and connect in order to survive.Mary Ellen Hannibal’s book, The Spine of the Continent, illuminates the initiative that is determined to protect key landscapes along the expanse of the Rocky Mountains, from the Yukon to Mexico. She shows us that the Rocky Mountains provide an essential roadway for animal and plant migration and dispersal, especially as climate change forces species into higher elevations. If safe routes don’t exist, populations such as grizzly bear, wolves, pika, and bighorn sheep become isolated entities that will eventually cease to exist.

Go to to read the full review and to check out their website.

wolf drawing

Living with Wolves Speaks Up

Living with Wolves photo

Living with Wolves photo

I find writing about the Idaho wolf situation a challenge. There is rarely anything but bad news coming from that state and I don’t want to innundate you with that. And I feel, as many do, an immense frustration about how Idaho fails to appreciate the great wealth of natural resources it holds, especially wolves. It reminds me of my days in Alaska, so much wilderness and wildlife, yet also so much ignorance.

I’m grateful we have strong forces in Idaho speaking up for wolves. Garrick Dutcher, program director for Living with Wolves, is one such individual. He and his Idaho based organization are a primary source for educating the world about wolves. They are active politically, supporting science based decisions in the management of wolves. Their website is one of the best places to visit to stay informed on what’s going on in wolfdom.  And if you haven’t had a chance yet, be sure and read The Hidden Life of Wolves by Jim and Jamie Dutcher. Truly an amazing book.

Today, Garrick’s extremely informative editorial appeared in the Idaho Statesman.  I’ve copied it here to share with you. Thanks, Garrick and Living with Wolves, for standing in the front line in the ever difficult battle to protect Idaho wolves.

Living with Wolves photo

Living with Wolves photo

Garrick Dutcher: Back off wolf crusade and dispel dark cloud over Idaho

April 1, 2014 Updated 11 hours ago

Year after year, Idaho demonstrates its intolerance for wolves. Idaho Department of Fish and Game, while tasked with preserving all of Idaho’s wildlife, continues to ratchet up hunting, trapping and snaring pressure on Idaho’s diminishing wolf population.

Around 600 wolves live in Idaho, which is also home to 83 times more coyotes, 33 times more bears, and four-to-five times more mountain lions than wolves. All of these species eat other animals to survive and all sometimes attack livestock. But Idaho reserves its special treatment for wolves alone.

Idaho’s wolf population has fallen consistently since 2009. Every year wolves have been under state management, Idaho has expanded, extended and loosened wolf hunting and trapping regulations. It’s an indefensible notion that “adequate regulatory mechanisms” are in place, as mandated by the Endangered Species Act for the oversight period under state management.

Idaho claimed it would manage wolves like any other species. No Idaho wildlife management authority can honestly defend this position.

Actions by Gov. Butch Otter and the state Legislature indicate they believe IDFG isn’t effective enough in killing wolves. The Wolf Control Board bill, “the wolf-kill bill,” was a priority the governor chose for his January State of the State address. Now, 400,000 taxpayer dollars for killing wolves is likely to be a recurring expense. Legislative sponsors and supporters repeatedly stated their intent to reduce Idaho’s wolf population to 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs, the federal minimum.

As the state of Idaho and IDFG reach to further extremes to kill more and more wolves, these actions aren’t going unnoticed.

Far beyond the scope of wildlife management, these practices are quickly giving a black eye to Idaho’s reputation across the country. Idaho is not an island. It does not exist in a vacuum. If the state walks far enough out on a limb, the limb will break, bringing Idaho back to earth under an increasingly focused spotlight.

As fewer people take up hunting, those who enjoy Idaho’s nature in a nonconsumptive way steadily increase. IDFG’s one-dimensional revenue stream from hunting and fishing licenses and tag sales cannot keep pace with fiscal challenges. It’s time to realign economic realities with income-generating constituencies.

Recognizing the increasing difficulty of remaining solvent with growing bills, Director Virgil Moore commendably organized the 2012 IDFG Wildlife Summit to modernize the agency. Unfortunately, necessary innovations are still not forthcoming. Instead, the agency continues pursuing scientifically unsupportable programs, such as excessive and expensive lethal wolf removal and expanding trapping.

Recently, IDFG conducted its sixth costly wolf eradication action in the Lolo, killing 23 wolves from a helicopter, to artificially bolster a declining elk herd, even though IDFG has acknowledged the decline was precipitated by dramatic changes to habitat and vegetation that support elk.

This spring, IDFG hired a professional hunter/trapper to kill wolf packs in the same designated wilderness where wolves were originally reintroduced. IDFG has also declared another goal – reducing wolf populations by 60 percent in the same wilderness.

Remarkably, as this continues, Idaho’s statewide elk population of 107,000 has been growing since 2010. The presence of wolves equating to poor hunting opportunity is a fallacy. Wyoming, with the third largest wolf population in the West, reported their three largest elk harvests on record in the past four years, with 45 percent success in 2013. Hunters can coexist with wolves while maintaining a robust hunting tradition.

Efforts to kill wolves on Idaho’s wild landscapes, especially in designated wilderness – where wolves belong – will never yield the long-term results the agency desires. IDFG continues burning precious dollars on failing programs, while gaining increasingly widespread negative publicity as the black sheep of the nation. For the sake of our beautiful state and all of its wildlife, let’s hope that Idaho soon corrects course.

Garrick Dutcher is the program director for the Idaho-based national nonprofit organization Living With Wolves.

Living with Wolves photo

Living with Wolves photo

OR 7 Expedition–1,200 miles following a lone wolf

OR 14

OR 14

While Journey carries on his quiet existance in southeast Oregon, a group of five ambitious folks are making plans to retrace the enigmatic wolf’s footsteps, from Wallowa County to northern California, a distance of over 1,200 miles.


I received an email from Jay Simpson, who holds the lengthy title of National Geographic Young Explorer & Multimedia Documentary Producer for the Wolf OR-7 Expedition. Jay explained the purpose of the trek is to “share the story of wolves returning to the Pacific Northwest and champion the collaborations that have made his (OR 7′s) journey possible.”

The trek is the brainchild of Oregonian Rachael Pecore-Valdez, a storyteller and educator. She’ll be on the trip (which begins in May and will be on foot or on bike) as well as Dave Moskowitz, author of Wolves in the Land of Salmon, Daniel Byers, and filmmaker, Galeo Saintz, founder of Wild Peace Alliance, along with Jay Simpson.

The group is fundraising for expenses and recently launched a Kickstarter campagin to help meet costs for a documentary, multimedia webiste, E-book and more. Oregon Wild, California Wolf Center, Pacific Wolf Coalition and others are supporting the project.

For 42 days, this devoted group will follow Journey’s trail, garnering attention for the protection of wolves from across the globe. Let’s support them in whatever way we can. Like them on Facebook, visit their website, and donate on Kickstarter. And please share this post widely. Education is key to the success of wolves in the Pacific Northwest and this project will do much to spread the word.

or 7

Trail cam photo of OR 7 taken near Butte Falls, Oregon.


Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014

Brett Haverstick has been busy. Not only is he the Education and Outreach Director for Friends of the Clearwater in Moscow, Idaho but he’s also the primary organizer for the Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 event. Brett holds a Masters degree in Natural Resources from the University of Idaho and is a man devoted to wolves. When I ask why, he explains his desire to redeem the mistake of past generations who exterminated wolves from the landscape.

June 28-29 are the dates when folks will gather near Yellowstone to speak up for for the vital protection of Canis lupus. With our support, Speak for Wolves has the potential to be the largest and most vocal happening for wolves so far, a time when we can raise a unified voice, network with other advocates from across the globe, and educate ourselves as well.  Here are the details, in Brett’s words…

Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 

Web banner

An opportunity for the American people to unite and demand wildlife management reform and restore our national heritage

On June 28-29 2014, Americans of all-walks-of-life will meet in Arch Park in Gardiner, Montana to tell our elected leaders that we need to reform wildlife management, at both, the state and federal level. Approximately, 3000 grey wolves have been killed in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes region since they were delisted from the Endangered Species Act. There are currently hunting and/or trapping seasons in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

We must stop the wolf slaughter that is currently taking place across the United States. We must address the root-cause(s) of the wolf slaughter, however, and the killing of other predators, as well as bison, wild horses and other members of the animal kingdom. The status quo for wildlife management in America is broken and it must be fixed.

5 Keys to Reforming Wildlife Management in America 

1.      Restructuring the way state Fish & Game Departments operate                                                                           

Western governors currently appoint agency commissioners, which essentially, tell the state Fish & Game Departments what to do. This is cronyism at its worst. State Fish & Game Departments are mostly funded by the sale of hunting/trapping/fishing licenses. These agencies are bound into serving the interest of “sportsmen” because it’s the hand that feeds them. Modern funding mechanisms, application of the best-available science and genuine public involvement in decision making are sorely lacking in these institutions and it must be addressed. Another option would be to empower the federal government to manage all wildlife on federal public lands.

  2.     Removing grazing from all federal public lands

The “control” of native wildlife to benefit the livestock industry is ground zero for the badly-broken wildlife management status quo. For more than a century, the livestock industry has single-handedly transformed the once-wild west into a tamed pasture of cows and sheep, resulting in the reduction of native wildlife populations that compete with habitat and forage. It is also well documented the damage that grazing causes when livestock infests federal public wildlands. Livestock are non-native and largely responsible for soil compaction, a decrease in water retention and aquifer recharge, erosion, destruction of wetlands and riparian areas, flooding and a net-loss of biodiversity. Grazing enables invasive plant species to proliferate, which greatly affects the West’s historic fire regime.

 3.      Abolishing Wildlife Services

Hidden within the US Department of Agriculture, is a rogue agency that is essentially, the wildlife killing-arm of the federal government. This federal tax-payer-supported agency works with the livestock industry to kill native wildlife like wolves, coyotes, black bears, cougars and many other non-predator species. Over the past century, Wildlife Services is responsible for the death of tens-of millions of native wildlife. Methods of killing include trapping, poisoning and aerial gunning. At the very least, the predator-control segment of Wildlife Services must be terminated.

 4.    Banning trapping/snaring on all federal public lands

We must evolve as a society and move away from this barbaric, unethical, cruel and torturous method(s) of killing native wildlife. Leg-hold traps, conibear traps and other devices are indiscriminate killers. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of dogs caught/killed by traps on public lands in states like Idaho. It’s only a matter of time before a child or adult steps into one of these bone-crushing devices. Some states currently require individuals to check their traps once every 72-hours, while other states do not require trappers to check them, at all.

 5.     No killing of predators, except for extreme circumstances

The best available science suggests that predators, including wolves, are a self-regulating species. In other words, predators don’t overpopulate, nor do they kill for “fun”. Instead, their populations naturally fluctuate, as do prey or ungulate populations. We need to better understand and embrace the trophic cascade effect predators have within ecosystems. Non-lethal measures should be implemented in rare instances where there are actual human/predator conflicts. For example, an aggressive and/or habituated bear may need to be killed after non-lethal measures have failed.

Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 is a 2-day celebration of predators and our national heritage. It will feature prominent speakers, live music, education booths, children’s activities, food/drink vendors, local wildlife photography and more. The event will feature the screening of two Predator Defense documentaries: The Imperiled American Wolf and EXPOSED: The USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife.

The festival-type event is family-friendly, educational, and non-confrontational. There is no admission fee. Arch Park is a public venue adjacent to the northwest entrance of Yellowstone National Park (Mammoth Hot Springs). We are encouraging folks to not bring their dogs/pets for crowd-control and safety reasons.

To learn more go to and follow us on

Hope you can make it and howl with us!

Brett Haverstick


Trap Free Montana Public Lands!

While we love wolves and other wildlife, many of us feel stymied by our inability to protect them. Soon we will have an opportunity to do our part to greatly limit trapping in the beautiful state of Montana.


Trap Free Montana Public Lands (TFMPL) is spearheading a citizen driven ballot initiative to end recreational trapping on public lands. This is a new movement, and one that must move quickly. 25,000 qualified signatures from across the state are needed by June so this initiative can appear on the ballot in November of this year.

What can you do? If you live in Montana it’s easy. Once the final approval process is complete, you can help gather signatures. But don’t worry, everyone can participate. Go to TFMPL’s excellent website. There you will see exactly how to get involved. If nothing else, send a few bucks to support this worthy endeavor.

The TFMPL website reports that at least 45,000 wild animals and about 50 dogs are trapped each year in Montana. Hidden, inconspicuous traps are baited, luring animals in. Trapping often captures non-target species. An endangered wolverine was killed in a trap in Idaho last week. Eagles, lynx, fisher and other rare animals are also captured. Of course, family pets suffer as well.


We must do our best to end the archaic practice of trapping. No one can deny the cruelty of this practice. And the safety of those of us who want to enjoy our public lands is threatened by traps. For these and many other reasons, let’s support Trap Free Montana Public Lands!

Go to their Facebook page and Like and Share widely.

ODFW photo

ODFW photo

The Wolf in 2013

2013–what a year for wolves! Much of it was unhappy, but there were positive points as well, including the publication of some fine books and a couple of inspiring gatherings of wolf advocates. I’ve pulled together some highlights for the year. This is not a comprehensive list, but I am only too happy to have you add your own recollections in the comment section. Thanks much to Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild and Wally Sykes for their hard work in compiling wolf news and sharing it with us.


District Court Judge Nels Swandel reopens hunting and trapping along the northern border of Yellowstone National Park, including the units on both sides of Gardiner, after a much fought for buffer zone had been granted. At least 8 Park wolves have been recently killed in these areas, 5 of them wearing collars that aided biologists in their long term and in depth study of Yellowstone wolves.

YNP wolf 832F shot in Dec 2012

YNP wolf 832F shot in Dec 2012

Minnesota ends its first season of wolf hunting with 413 animals killed. Wisconsin reports 117. Wyoming is 9 short of its quota with 43 dead wolves.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife releases its end of the year wolf count, reporting 53 wolves and 5 breeding pairs.

On January 17 a Mexican gray wolf is released into the wild, the first one in over a year. Only 50 to 60 of these wolves are known to exist in the wild and 4 were found dead in 2012.

On the same day, OR 16, a black wolf from the Walla Walla pack in NE Oregon is shot 70 miles north of Boise, Idaho. He’d dispersed to that state only a month before.  This photo of him was taken in Nov. 2012. OR16Nov12012


Wolves killed by hunters and trappers in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana reaches a whoppping 1,003 since the regional delisting.

In Germany, farmers are eager to kill wolves, saying the predators have preyed on over 360 farm animals in areas near Berlin since 2007.German wolf

Sweden authorizes a selective wolf culling to remove 16 wolves, reportedly due to inbreeding of the animals. Sweden has a population of about 270 wolves.

Jim and Jamie Dutcher’s book The Hidden Life of Wolves is released.

The Humane Society and other advocacy groups file a lawsuit to reverse the delisting of Canis lupus in the Great Lakes Region of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.


Kenneth Salazar steps down from his post as Secretary of the Interior!

A plan, approved by the Alaska Dept of Game in March 2012, is implemented to remove ALL wolves from a vast area 200 miles NW of Fairbanks. 15 wolves were taken in the initial effort, which is being made to boost moose populations. The plan is eventually called off, as smart wolves make a hasty exit from the area.

52 members of Congress send a letter to the US Dept Fish and Wildlife requesting that Canis lupus not be delisted in the parts of the US where Federal protection is still granted.

OR 7, better known as Journey, the rambling wolf who has logged over 3,000 dispersal miles, returns to his home state of Oregon.

It is reported that 4 or ever 5 female wolves now reside on Isle Royale, after previous concerns that only one female remained on the island.

Isle Royale wolves

Isle Royale wolves

The Wildlife Management Institute writes that wolves have returned to the “Wedge,” the area in the NE corner of Washington state, between the Kettle and Columbia Rivers. This is where the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife erradicated the entire Wedge pack in September of 2012 due to livestock predation. At the end of 2012, Washington had approximately 51 wolves in 9 packs with 5 breeding pairs. 

OR 5 Female from Imnaha pack in NE Oregon

OR 5 Female from Imnaha pack in NE Oregon

Imnaha pack wolf, OR 5 is trapped and killed in the Idaho panhandle. She was a sister to Journey and the third Oregon wolf killed in Idaho.


Snare set for wolves in BC

Snare set for wolves in BC

The Huff Post British Columbia (Canada)  posts an article titled, “BC’s Torturous Wolf Management.”   This article explains the BC wolf cull, including their indiscriminate and profuse use of snare traps.

Elsewhere in Canada, the Alberta Wilderness Association discovers that “harvest incentives” (sounds like bounties to me) are greatly increasing the number of wolf deaths in this province.

On April 9, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game releases its annual wolf monitoring report. The Idaho wolf population droppped 11 percent, due to hunting, trapping and lethal control by the IDF&W.

In Montana, the Montana Wolf Management Advisory Council meet to discuss the status of wolves in their state. Advocacy groups speak up, including Wolves of the Rockies and Wolfwatcher.


Executive Director of Predator Defense, Brooks Fahy, is interviewed by Inside Edition on the travesties of trapping. 

A draft government rule to remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across most of the lower 48 states is leaked to the press.  This begins the long period of comments and editorials about the proposed delisting.

831F, a black female wolf from Yellowstone’s Canyon pack is killed by landowner Bill Hoppe. 13 sheep were presumedly killed on Hoppe’s property, but the Yellowstone wolf was not implicated. She was likely attracted by the pile of carcasses Hoppe hosted on his land.

Michigan governer Rick Snyder signs into law Senate Bill 288, allowing the state to implement hunting of wolves. Opponents of that law had filed more than 250,000 signatures in an effort to have the wolf hunt repealed by a vote in the November 2014 election.

On May 24, after 17 months of negotiation, the ODFW, the Oregon Cattleman’s Association, and the governor’s office reach a land mark settlement on the state’s wolf management plan. Much of the work for the plan is done by Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands, two nonprofits that do much to protect wolves and other species, as well as the environment.

Two pairs of Mexican wolves are released, one in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona, and the other pair in New Mexico.


The Secret World of Red Wolves by T. Delene Beeland is published.


The controversy continues over the proposed Federal delisting of all wolves in the United States, other than Mexican wolves. Once no longer protected by the Endangered Species Act, the fate of wolves would be up to individual states. Advocates worry as so far, states have not proven to manage their wolves based on science.

Five billboards in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming with an image of a large wolf greet visitors coming into Yellowstone Park and elsewhere. The billboards support the protection of wolves and are sponsored by Predator Defense.

PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) files a lawsuit to uncover political motivations behind the proposed wolf delisting. 

On June 27th, the Oregon Wolf Settlement bill passes the Senate.


Journey remains in Oregon, roaming from Jackson County east of Ashland, to Southwest Klamath County, just north of the California border.

The Imnaha pack, including Journey’s sire, OR 4, moves out of immediate danger of being killed by ODFW for livestock depredation. According to the new Oregon plan, wolves can only be killed if they have commited 4 confirmed predations within 6 months. These “strikes” fall off after a certain period of time, preventing the premature lethal removal of wolves.

Two more wolf pups are killed by officials for possible livestock predation on the Flat Top Ranch in Idaho, near Carey. John Peavey, owner of the ranch, has reported that wolves have killed 50 sheep on his ranch in the last several months. Six wolves have been exterminated due to his claims.

ODFW boasts that 7 Oregon packs have pups, including 3 from the newly discovered Mnt Emily pack, as shown below.

photo from ODFW

photo from ODFW


The first wolf in the Netherlands in over 140 years is found dead alongside a road. It is believed she dispersed there from Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile,  a rare video of a wolf is taken in a forest near Oslo. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suspends the scientific peer review of its proposal to remove wolves from the endangered species list, saying the process did not meet the agency’s standards.

Earth First! releases a manual called Wolf Hunt Sabatoge, providing details (not necessarily legal ones) on how to stop wolf hunts and destroy traps.


The Interior Department opens public comment to review its proposal to expand the range of Mexican wolves.  The comment period ends Sept 19.

Federal officials confirm that an animal shot by a hunter near Munfordville in Hart County, Kentucky on March 16 is a gray wolf. Wolves were exterminated from the state in the mid 1800s.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extends the public comment period on its proposal to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list and its plan to maintain protections for the Mexican gray wolf. The comment period ends Oct. 28, and a series of public hearings have been scheduled: Sept. 20 in Washington, Oct. 2 in Sacramento and Oct. 4 in Albuquerque.

Mexican grey, photo by Luis Sinco

Mexican grey, photo by Luis Sinco

On September 7th, a bow hunter kills the first wolf in the 2013 Montana Archery season. She is a grey female, reportedly weighing about 110 lbs.

The National Rally to Protect America’s Wolves is held in Washington D.C. The event is sponsored by The Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance, Adopt A Wolf Pack and Friends of the Clearwater.

The Animal News Hour features several female wolf advocates voicing their concerns over the proposed Federal delisting of wolves.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service decides to halt public hearings on the delisting in Oregon, Colorado, and Montana.

Wolf Haven International in western Washington receives the honor of becoming a nationally accredited animal sanctuary. 


The book, Collared: Politics and Personalites in Oregon’s Wolf Country, by Aimee Lyn Eaton is published by Oregon State University Press.

Montana issues 6,000 wolf permits for only 625 wolves. Permits are $19 for residents, $50 for nonresidents.

The Federal government shuts down, postponing public hearings on the delisting of wolves and shutting down national parks, including Yellowstone.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture allocates $38,000 to help ranchers prevent livestock attacks. The funds will go for nonlethal measures, including range riders, fladry, RAG boxes, etc.

Wolves are found in the mountains 50 miles from Spain, over 70 years since they were last seen there.

Over 450 wolf enthusiasts and experts attend the International Wolf Symposium held in Duluth, Minnesota.


red wolf, photo rights to tredhead

red wolf, photo rights to tredhead

The sixth red wolf within a month is found shot in North Carolina. 14 red wolves have died since January 1, 2013. Three were killed by vehicles, one died as a result of non-management related actions, one was undetermined but appears to be the result of suspected illegal take, and nine were confirmed or suspected gunshot deaths. Red wolves are one of the world’s most endangered canids and are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Tom Knudson, journalist for the Sacramento Bee is awarded the 2013 Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism for his expose on USDA’s Wildlife Services.

Minnesota opens its second season on wolves, with 2,000 hunters setting out to kill a quota of 100 wolves.


The number of wolves killed since delisting in the Rocky Mountain region of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming is now 1,440.

A preliminary study by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife finds there is not a need for a state protection of wolves, partly because no wolf populations are established yet. (see comment below)

Journey spends a few hours in northern Siskiyou County before returning to Oregon. Perhaps he missed the sunshine of the Golden State.

Fewer visitors are seeing wolves in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska.  The 2013 count of 55 wolves is the second lowest documented in the area since counts began in 1986. Wildlife advocates are petitioning for a permant buffer around the park to prevent the killing of wolves as they enter and leave the park.

To end on a happy note, I’d like to share with you the children’s book Running for Home, written by sisters Gail McDiarmid and Marilyn McGee. This is a delightful story, beautifully illustrated, about the return of wolves to Yellowstone. I was fortunate enough to help edit Running for Home. Gail and Marilyn had a graphic designer revamp their book and it looks even better. My copy appeared in my mailbox the day before Christmas. Thank you!

running for homeAddendum:

Please add to the list of wonderful wolf books of 2013, this one released in December, Rick Lamplugh’s creative nonfiction work, In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion inWild Yellowstone.

inthe temple of wolvesgAnother addendum:

Maggie Howell, Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) in NY sent me this video on the FamilyWolf Walk held in August. What an amazing event! I so wish I’d been there. WCC does a commendable job of sharing the truth about the essential role wolves play in our environment. In their words, “Our nation’s future lies in a well educated public.”

Journey–The Lone Wolf

It was revealed on Monday that over the weekend, Journey, Oregon’s wandering wolf, crossed the border into California once again. He didn’t stay long before returning to the Southern Cascades of Oregon. Karen Kovacs, Wildlife Program Manager with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that the wolf was following migrating deer and elk.

OR 7 in Modoc County, CA 2012

OR 7 in Modoc County, CA 2012

Dispersal is a normal behavior for wolves, although few travel as far or for as long as Journey. He has gone over 3,000 miles since leaving the Imnaha pack in the northeast corner of Oregon in September of 2011. I remember that time well. I left the same area a few weeks behind him after attending a rural writing retreat along the Imnaha River. Driving home, I watched for OR 7 (he hadn’t earned the name Journey yet) as I made the long trip back to southern Oregon. I didn’t see him of course, but it was wonderful thinking that the dispersing wolf might be traveling the same route I was.

And as it turned out, he did. We both meandered in a southwesterly direction, through the John Day Wilderness Area, west toward Bend, then due south, the wolf utilizing the land bridge of the Cascades to travel on. He entered western Oregon, outside of Roseburg, on November 1, 2011.  And long after I was home, OR 7 wandered into my part of the state and has made this area his territory for the last ten months. Oregon Wild’s website has great details on Journey and his trip, including maps.

But Journey has been outdone. In the early 1990s, a wolf named Pluie (French for rain) far exceeded Journey’s travels. She dispersed over 45,000 miles in two years, roaming through Canada and the northwestern US. She traveled even further than this but her radio collar was damaged by a bullet (armor-good use for radio collars!) and stopped working. Sadly, she was fatally shot, along with her two pups, two years later in  Canada.

(Addendum: I’ve been questioned about the distance traveled by Pluie. Taz Alago states that the wolf traveled within an area of 40,000 miles, which is much different from traveling that distance in a straight line. My source may need to correct herself as well,  I’ll look into that. Go to the Y2Y site for details on Pluie. Thanks for noting this, Taz. I always appreciate it when someone catches me up on details–not my forte!)

What an amazing wolf! Pluie’s travels inspired the formation of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), an organization dedicated to preserving connective places for animal migration.

Journey turns four next April and his GPS/VHF collar was placed in February of 2011, when he was a yearling.  When I was in Joseph, Oregon last month I learned that the battery on Journey’s radio collar may last until the end of 2014, although the VHF capacity would continue after this. We asked Russ Morgan and Roblyn Brown at that meeting if there were plans to recollar Journey, to ensure the ability to keep track of him. The state wolf biologists explained that first of all, the decision would not be theirs because Journey is now under the jurisdiction of the USFWS, specifically wolf coordinator John Stephenson.


OR 14

Secondly, Roblyn and Russ doubted that our interest level in this one lone wolf would warrant the effort, expense, and risk involved in locating, tranquilizing and recollaring Journey. Finding wild wolves is not easy. It involves a spotter plan and a helicopter, as well as a lot of staff people. And the people in the air sustain a high degree of risk,  in bad weather especially.

The risk to the wolf is an issue as well. Remember that OR 7′s sister died shortly after she was tranquilized (at the same time as Journey). Nothing definitive was found in the autopsy but the timing infers that it may have been related to her capture. These things happen, usually due to no fault of the humans involved. I recall similar incidents in the zoo world, where I grew up. Despite the extreme caution my father (zoo director) and the veterinarians used, sometimes an animal went under and didn’t come out. It can go the other way too. Once, a leopard we believed to be completely sedated, woke up suddenly and attacked my dad. This was a large male cat, weighing at least 175 pounds. He was at our facility temporarily, so we didn’t know him and he didn’t know us, contributing to the problem. The leopard knocked my dad down and proceeded to work his sharp teeth through my father’s winter coat until a keeper (a former boxer and a fearless man) jumped in and inserted his steel-toed boot firmly into the big cat’s mouth, allowing my dad to escape. He sustained some serious bite wounds but was happy to be alive.

In a year or so Journey may become even more of a lone wolf, one that isn’t under constant observation via the computers of the Oregon or California Department of Fish and Wildlife Service. He’s been wise so far, staying away from livestock and dodging traffic on Interstate 5 and other main thoroughfares. But we’ll worry about him more when we don’t hear occasional reports, reassuring us that he’s OK out there, living his solitary wolf life.

This brief video, taken by ODFW staff, was taken in December of 2010.