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

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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  1. SteveO Avatar

    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. Kate Tyler Avatar
    Kate Tyler

    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,

  3. Ileana Avatar

    Great site!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan