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The first observations of wolves in the western plains were made

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					The gray wolf in Wyoming, Canis lupus is medium to large in size with light colorations the western (Zmyj, United 16). States These and characteristics south Canada are seen 16).

throughout

(Zmyj,

Wolves generally live in packs ranging from 2 to 26 individuals and in relatively low densities of 1 individual per 40 to 80 square miles (Zmyj, 16). The first recorded observations of wolves of the western plains of North and fur America trappers were made by 1). frontiersmen, They most usually such an

explorers

(Hampton,

“encountered

abundance of wild animals- buffalo, antelope, mountain sheep, elk and deer- that most. . .did not consider wolves competitors” for hunting (Hampton, 2). Wolves were numerous throughout the vast plains east of the Rocky Mountains following an estimated twenty-eight to forty

million bison during the early nineteenth century (Hampton, 11). “Based on maximum wolf densities known today where prey is abundant,. . .rich prairie grasslands of the west may have supported as many as two

hundred thousand wolves” at one point in time (Hampton, 4). That number would have be the largest concentration of wolves anywhere in the world (Hampton, 4). Wolves successfully scavenged behind nomadic tribes for millennia and may have been domesticated over time (Hampton 5). Plains Indians had domesticated dogs, Canis familiaris that were partially descend from wolves that would come into villages to breed with the dogs

(Walker and Frison, 126). Native American tribes generally accepted wolves as a common part of their lands, killing few if any at all (Hampton 1,4). In part because of the coexistence of native people and wolves on the western plains, they were typically unafraid of humans and mostly unthreatened before western expansion. William Clark, during the Lewis and Clark expedition from 1804 to 1806, noted coming upon a large pack of wolves feeding on a dead buffalo. They were fat from the

abundance of large game and calm enough around humans for him to get close enough to with kill wolves one with a that bayonet they (Hampton, more 4). Early than

interactions

suggest

were

curious

afraid of newcomers. Wolves started to follow parties of men in the hope of stealing meat when it was not being for watched. the fact The that first they

frontiersmen

generally

tolerated

wolves

typically carried few belongings, had no livestock and were usually on the move. The tolerance of wolves changed once large numbers of people started to move west with domesticated animals, settling across the land. Gun shots first attracted wolves quick to follow such sounds in the hope of getting a free meal. Hunters had to start shooting only animals they could quickly retrieve in order to beat wolves to the chase (Hampton, 5). The pervasive view of settlers toward wolves was that they were dangerous or even enemies of humans. This attitude was in part based from descriptions of wolves’ ability to take down a bison separated from its herd and from experiences of wolves’ bothersome

pursuit of traveling parties, in what could seem an overly curiosity for good intentions. People traveling with domesticated animals had to guard possessions and shoot at nearing wolves. Wolves became fearful of humans because of settlers’ instincts to shot at them. Wolves were more commonly a threat to humans if provoked and in defense, but might

attack an alone person if very hungry or if affected by rabies (Hampton 9,10). During the 1833 fur trappers rendezvous on the Green River of western Wyoming, a white wolf wandered into the gathering displaying behaviors of irritation, fearfulness and aggression and bit numerous people and domesticated animals (Hampton, 10). Artist George Catlin in the mid-nineteenth century “prophesized that buffalo and other wild animals soon would fall before the coming

hordes of white invaders and what he termed their insatiable avarice” or avid self-interests (Hampton, 13). “What will wolves do, asked

Catlin, after the buffaloes are all gone, and they are left. . .with scarcely anything to eat?” (Hampton, 13). There was once twenty-four subspecies of the gray wolf in North America but now only five

subspecies remain (Zmyj, 16). Problems between humans and wolves in Wyoming escalated during the rise of the cattle industry after the end of the Civil War in 1864. Wolves fed on livestock as a substitution prey to disappearing bison herds and the decline of other wild game (Zmyj, 16). Many people living in Wyoming regarded wolves as a threat to Wyoming’s livestock industry. Since the 1880’s the cattle industry has been an importance to Wyoming’s economy and many livelihoods (Zmyj, 17). At this time the diet of wolves consisted mostly of deer, elk and moose but wolves would kill livestock most commonly in areas that lack sufficient numbers of native prey (Zmyj, 16). In 1920, biologist W.B. Bell from the United States Biological Survey reported that on average a wolf or mountain lion killed around $1000 worth of livestock each year (Zmyj, 17). The state legislature made bounty laws that promoted the killing of certain predatory animals by citizens, in exchange for pay. In 1915, Congress appropriated $125,000 for killing wolves,

coyotes and other predatory animals in national forest and public lands by federally employed hunters (Zmyj, 20). “Between 1895 and 1927

private bounty hunters and government trappers. . .killed 36,161. . .” wolves (Zmyj, 1). As a result of continued extermination of wolves in Wyoming, in 1929 the Game and Fish Department and the Biological Survey of the Department of Agriculture estimated only five adult wolves

remaining in Wyoming (Zmyj, 15). The grey wolf was all but extinct in Wyoming by 1930. From the late 1920’s until the 1990s, wolf sighting was rare. During the 1960’s

and

1970’s

the

public’s

attitude

toward

environmental

and

wildlife

issues changed. The federal legislation passed such acts as the 1964 Wilderness Act and in 1973 the Endangered Species Act was put into effect, protecting wolves. A year later The Fish and Wildlife Service started implementing plans for their recovery in what would become the 1987 Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan (Zmyj, 23). Public

support for saving wolves continued into the 1980’s and 90’s, “with the majority of United States citizens viewing wolves as a valuable natural resource and an integral part of natural ecosystems” (Wyo. Game and Fish, 2). However, it was not until 1995 that wolves were reintroduced into Wyoming. The reintroduction began with 31 wolves released in Yellowstone National Park and another 35 into central Idaho. “By late 1998, The Yellowstone National Park area was home to 116 wolves, split between 7 packs that gave birth to 10 different litters. . .” (Bangs and Fritts, 787). For the wolves to be considered reestablished the United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared that there had to be at least 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves throughout Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho for three consecutive years. Also a plan would need to be drafted to make sure the grey wolf would not be put back on the endangered species list in the future. By 2002 these requirements has be met. On March 31, 2008 after more than a decade of federal protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the gray wolves from the endangered species list. On the day they were taken off the list, more than 1,500 wolves and at least 100 breeding pairs were present in the three states. Loss of livestock from reintroducing wolves in the Yellowstone area has been between 1 and 32 cattle and 17 and 110 sheep each year, costing between $1,900 and $30,500 annually (Bangs and Fritts, 793).

We lands

must

remember of

that

wolves we have

have put

become upon

integrated their

into

our and

because

stresses

resources

environment.

Responsible

controls

of

wolves

have

better

protected

livestock resources while promoting public tolerance and protection of wolves (Niemeyer, 59). The future of the gray wolf in Wyoming will depend on our ability to reach a balance between their protection and control (Niemeyer, 59).

Literature Cited Carter C. Niemeyer, Edward E. Bangs, Steven H.Fritts, Joseph A. Fontaine, Douglas W. Smith, Kerry M. Murphy, Curtis M. Mack. "WOLF DEPREDATION MANAGEMENT IN RELATION TO WOLF RECOVERY." University of Nebraska (1994): http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/vpc16/41 Wolf Depredation Management in relation to Wolf Recovery describes the great decline of the gray wolf by 1930, reintroduction of wolves in the Yellowstone area and control programs that have helped improve the

protection of wolves and livestock. Danny N. Walker, George C. Frison, Studies on Amerindian dogs, 3: Prehistoric wolf/dog hybrids from the northwestern plains, Journal of Archaeological Science Volume 9, Issue 2, June 1982, Pages 125-172. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WH8-4DM1DTD69/2/2cecd5779d5143e53d78e72ea4882e8e) Studies on Amerindian Dogs describes domesticated dogs arriving in

North America before 10,000 years ago with the migration of people from Asia to the Americas. It discusses characteristic similarities and

differences between wolves and wolf/dogs hybrids.

Hampton, Bruce. "Shark of the Plains Early Western Encounters Wolves." Montana Magazine of Western History 46(1996): 2-14. Shark of the Plains: Early Western Encounters with Wolves

with

is

an

organization of many recordings made by early westerners about wolves on the Great Plains. It gives insight to the abundance of life on the grasslands of the west and how that ecosystem changed due to western expansion.

Edward E. Bangs, Steven H. Fritts, Joseph A. Fontaine, Douglas W. Smith, Kerry M. Murphy, Curtis M. Mack, Carter C. Niemeyer. “The Status of Gray Wolf Restoration in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming” Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 4, Commemorative Issue Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of "A Sand County Almanac'' and the Legacy of Aldo Leopold (Winter, 1998), pp. 785-798.Published by: Allen Press.http://www.jstor.org/stable/3783552 The Status of Gray Wolf Restoration in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming describes the history of the restoration of the gray wolf in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

"Final Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan." 16 November 2007. Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. 9 Nov 2008 <http://gf.state.wy.us/downloads/pdf/WolfFinal2007WyomingGrayWolfManage mentPlan.pdf>.

Zanyj, Peter. "A Fight to the Finish the extermination of the gray wolf in Wyoming, 1890-1930." Montana Magazine of Western History 46(1996): 15-25. A Fight to the finish: The extermination of the Gray Wolf in Wyoming, 1890-1930 is a journal article describing the extermination of wolves due to their depredation of livestock and wildlife resources. The

article then describes the recovery of wolves in Wyoming as protected endangered species.


				
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