Last April a large wolf-like “canid” was found dead along I-90 east of Sturgis, SD.

Examination of its stomach contents showed it had been subsisting on deer.

Was it a wolf, a wolf hybrid, a pet wolf that had been released? After much laboratory investigation and genetic analysis, it turns out it was a wolf that had left (dispersed) from the Yellowstone ecosystem.

This is a huge distance, but the story is not just a wow!! Equally long dispersals of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Yellowstone, and wolves in Canada have been documented in recent years.

There are those who say that the wolves reintroduced to Idaho and Yellowstone (from Canada) in 1995-6 were somehow different than the essentially extinct “native” wolves, but these long-range dispersals dispel this argument. For wolves to develop into a different species or sub-species, they have to be isolated so the populations cannot mate with one another. If wolves are dispersing 400 miles now, they certainly did so for thousands of years in the past.

That is why the story is important.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

3 Responses to Wolf hit on Interstate 90 near Sturgis, SD was a Yellowstone area wolf

  1. avatar SteveO says:

    Wolves again sited in NE Oregon. Specifically in the Wallowa Mtns. See article: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1157680504161370.xml&coll=7

  2. avatar Kate Tyler says:

    Wolves are such incredible animals and have the ability to go so many miles… the wolf that ended up in South Dakota, dead, along a highway was from Yellowstone. Others will follow. May they have a better destiny.

    The American west is one of the few places on earth that wolves can exist and maybe someday, Americans will embrace this fact, and welcome back wolves to even places like the Dakotas,

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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