Wolves that leave their birth pack in search of a mate and open territory are essential to increasing wolf population and wolf country. Biologically driven dispersers risk their lives to hunters and highways, rivers and mountains. Their stories inspire.
In December 2011 a young male wolf known as Slavc dispersed from the southwestern corner of Slovenia. In 2014 a biologist, Hubert Potocnik, recalled Slavc's journey - of more than 1,200 miles - to Henry Nichols, a reporter from The Guardian.
On the first day, Slavc bumped into the A1, a fenced, four-lane expressway. He could only cross by underpass, overpass, or along a river. He chose the overpass and kept moving.
The biologist was certain of the route because he had outfitted Slavc with a GPS collar before the dispersal. The collar sent Potocnik data points seven times a day, making the trek a connect-the-dots drawing on his map.
The dots showed Slavc ending his first day in the backyard of a house in a small town. Potocnik was alarmed. Had Slavc been slain, become a trophy? As the biologist fretted, beautiful GPS dots appeared. Slavc was moving!