Tim Bowers of Bear Paw Outfitters sent a letter recently to Montana Senator Joe Balyeat with information concerning gray wolves. His request was that continued efforts be made to bring the wolf population under better control in order that in places where ungulate populations have been greatly diminished, they can be restored.

Interestingly, in the letter to Mr. Balyeat, Bowers makes reference to some old newspaper articles dating back to 1968. In one edition a photo shows a black wolf.

I have an elderly mother and I have been going through boxes of her things. She has kept everything from day one. I came across a Livingston Enterprise dated December 1968. It had an article in it, that naturally caught my eye about the animals in Yellowstone Park wintering. They have a picture of a black wolf, bison, mule deer and elk. It reads that once thought to be extinct, there are at least 6 of these (wolves) known to be in Yellowstone National Park and possibly more. If you are fortunate to see one of these beasts contact the authorities. The picture in ( courtesy of Yellowstone National Park) I thought they said the wolves were extinct!

I also found another article dated November 1968 about issuing 500 elk permits for the Gallatin Canyon area. It mentioned the predators that prey on the elk and gray wolves were listed.

1968 was long before any real serious discussions began to take place about restoring wolves to the Yellowstone area. Most all of us fall far short of understanding scientifically about why there were wolves in Yellowstone on December 1968 when we have had it beat into our heads that wolves were extinct in this area.

However, I learned today that Dr. Valerius Geist, recognized as one of the leading experts in wildlife science, was asked to identify a black wolf in Yellowstone. In a somewhat related series of emails discussing differences in wolf subspecies, Geist writes:

By the way, I was asked years before wolves were brought to Yellowstone from Alberta and BC to identify a “mystery canid” filmed in Yellowstone. There was nothing mysterious about it. It was a black wolf.

Not knowing exactly when “years before’ was, one can only speculate that both are making reference to the same wolf(s) during the same period of time.

There has always been much discussion about whether wolves were actually living in the Yellowstone area prior to wolf introduction in the mid 1990s. When you combine that discussion with the one about whether the introduced wolf was a different subspecies of wolf than the native wolf found in these areas prior to extirpation, agreement is uncommon.

Tom Remington