Dispersing Wolves Need Federal Protection

Part 5 in a Series on Wolf-Human Conflict Dispersal is a fact of wolf life; wolves naturally leave their families, seeking a mate, open territory, or both. The average disperser walks, trots, or runs 264 miles. But a wolf dispersing to a state where it is not protected by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) runs the risk of death.

While a female wolf from Oregon reached California to form that state's first wolf family, other Oregon wolves have not been so lucky. Another Oregon female dispersed only to be killed by an Idaho trapper. OR-9 and OR-16 also died in Idaho-from gunshots. OR-18 ran that Idaho gauntlet only to walk into the gunsights of a Montana poacher. Those wolves could have survived if the ESA still protected them in Idaho and Montana. New families could have formed.

The passage of the 1973 ESA enabled wolves-one by one and year by year-to reclaim a smidgen of the territory we had stolen from them with guns, traps, poison, and fire. Just 13 years before the ESA passed...to continue reading:

Rick Lamplugh lives near Yellowstone's north gate and is the author of the Amazon Bestseller In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter's Immersion in Wild Yellowstone. Available as eBook or paperback. Or as a signed copy from the author.

Photo: OR-1, First disperser to Oregon to be collared. Photo by ODFW.