Idaho Bow Hunter Has Close Call with Wolf Pack [very doubtful as described]

Channel 2 news in Boise, which seems to be staking out as a leader in reporting doubtful wolf stories, now has a news story about an Idaho bow hunter who claims wolves followed him and surrounded his tent for “14 to 15 hours” in a central Idaho location.

Idaho Bow Hunter Has Close Call with Wolf Pack. KCBI. Boise. They have a video on-line of the news. The tone of the reporter is one of sensationalization.

I learned of this about a week ago. It seemed odd, but perhaps some details would flesh out an interesting story because hunters have run into a lot of wolves in central Idaho.

I posted to the bowhunters board to get some details, but Richard Besendorfer, the hunter in question, refused. I thought he could certainly provide a lot more information than. . . “I spent the next 14 to 15 hours in my small mountaineering tent unable to draw my bow as I was circled by the wolves the entire night. There were 7 wolves as close as 3 feet at times and all I could do is wait them out, banging on the wall of the tent in a feabile [sic] attempt to keep them at bay.”

His fellow webboarders didn’t like seeing him questioned and repeatedly testified that he was a truthful and fine fellow and he ought not to be questioned.

I think he probably had a wolf encounter, but could not really provide credible details about what may have been an exaggeration.

I suggested that such aggressive wolf behavior, if it happened, was intolerable, and that he was not just allowed, but had a duty to shoot one of the wolves with his bow and arrow. He said that they were too close.

From the news story, especially listening to it, my judgment is that Idaho’s large carnivore manger, Steve Nadeau, didn’t buy the story. Instead Nadeau gave a general run down on Idaho wolves and hunters seeing them.

The story also predicted wolves would soon show up in the Boise foothills, which is a pretty good prediction because it already happened and some time ago. That’s the nice thing about covering this issue for eleven years now, I can remember wolf news from back when the reporter was a pre-teen.

I think folks should carry pepper spray, as they do for other dangerous wildife. It will give them peace of mind.







  1. Laird Bean Avatar
    Laird Bean

    Here we go again. Interesting when a hunter or forest service emplyees or other outdoor enthusiast are encountered by wolves that their story always, always seems to be discredited, possibly only telling half truth of the incident, or it is an exagerration. Sounds like many of the threads I have commented to about livestock issues.
    Amazes me that the wolf advocates are always, always, always correct and everyone else is wrong. Why can’t you just allow them to tell their story and leave it at that. Of course, then that would be politically incorrect because wolf advocates have a different agenda.

    NO! I asked him repeatedly for more details. I emailed his friends separately asking them to try to prevail on him for details. They refused. So this is my judgment call. Did he refuse details because he really had none, or what? My judgment is because the story is full of holes and could easily be spotted if details were given.
    No reporter should be satisfied with one paragraph from someone who claims a most rare or unusual experience. With almost all wolf stories I get, folks are happy to provide all the information I ask for.
    If someone claims he was kidnapped by terrorists, would anyone be satisfied with a one paragraph description? Ralph Maughan

  2. mike Avatar

    Ought to contact Bill Sali or little Butchie Otter and ask their opinion; maybe phone Warren Jeffs as well. All seriousness aside, Ralph, why do you persist in trying to swim upstream and do the right thing in the midst of all this abuse from inbred miscreants. Really, I admire your character; but, there’s a couple of old sayings that come to mind. First, never wrestle with a pig; you both get all dirty and the pig likes it. Then there’s, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Frankly, I don’t believe they have anywhere near the capacity to know when you’ve beaten them intellectually; they just roll along or wallow along as the case may be and there is really no change in their bad behavior. So, maybe you ought to think about joining ’em. Register as a Republican, send little Butchie an early contribution for his next campaign, start quoting weird scripture, get yourself three or four nice twelve year old wives, and start enjoying life like the rest of ’em. If you did, you’d be the only one feeling ashamed; they sure don’t.

    I think we need Laird’s point of view, but others can and will provide it. Laird has repeatedly told us about his fine conservation practices on his ranch as a counterweight to numerous complaints about grazing.

    However, Laird has never told us where “No-tellum Creek” is, so that we can judge. This has become sheer repetition, so Laird won’t be posting here anymore. Ralph Maughan

  3. Craig Hortman Avatar
    Craig Hortman

    I’m just wondering if the bow hunter might have been cloaking his presence (while bowhunting) with some deer scent. This might explain why the wolves were circling his tent that night trying to find out where the odor was coming from.

  4. Overlander Avatar

    Now, Mike, don’t be criticizing persistent, undaunted and persevering Ralph. Of course wolf haters will always and continuously attack. That’s precisely why Ralph must do what he does. No, the battle doesn’t end. No, there’s nothing surprising about that. But why give up?

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Regarding Craig’s comment, that’s one of the things I wanted to ask this bowhunter fellow.

    I did hear of a case in Minnesota where a deer hunter was hiding and wearing deer scent. He was jumped by a wolf, which didn’t hurt him, and the wolf apparently ran off quickly when it realized he wasn’t a deer.

    I also got email from a guy in Jackson Hole who said part of the Teton Pack followed him a way because (he figured) that the ski poles sticking out of his pack may have looked like antlers.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Regarding Overlander’s comment, I reluctantly removed Laird because of the redundancy of his posts. Too bad in a way, he was just about the first to post to my blog.

    Others against wolves and who insist most ranchers are doing a fine job will show up.

  7. Robert Hoskins Avatar

    While hunting I occasionally come across wolves and I have been followed once, for a period that lasted for about an hour, until I sat down to see if wolves would come bounding along. They didn’t. This occurred in Wyoming’s Sunlight Basin.

    Having studied wolves now for about a decade, both here and in Canada, I find this particular claim about wolves circling the tent in Hollywood fashion highly improbable. It’s highly unusual, unless you are watching a B-movie.

    As part of my study of wolves, I have looked at the stories about wolf encounters that go back to the early days, when stories such as wolves chasing individuals onto the rooves of cabins and then circling the cabin all night would appear in newspapers. During the brouhaha leading up to the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone and Central Idaho, many letters from people to the FWS that opposed wolves referred to these apocryphal events, sometimes including copies of stories from these old newspaper accounts. Among the 160,000 plus comments that the FWS received, there were approximately 13,000 letters or documents with original comments. These 13K letters filled five boxes and I read every one of them. Many of these letters had copies of the old accounts, with the claim that they were gosple truth. Of course, they all had the ring of bad fiction.

    Reading all these letters wasn’t as much a chore as it might sound. What I learned from that exercise was that despite the interest in wolves, what people actually knew about wolves, whether they were prowolf or antiwolf, could be put into a thimble with a quart of space left over. The fact is that the emotions and the myths about wolves are such that actual experience, such as more and more people are having as wolves expand their range, is ovewhelmed by the myth and the experience expands beyond the bounds of reason.

    That is what happened with this guy in the tent. I’m sure of it.

    What is necessary is that people like Ralph have to continue to educate, educate, and educate, until people learn to abandon the myths for the actual natural history of wolves, which I find much more interesting.

  8. Drew Haskins (Georgia) Avatar
    Drew Haskins (Georgia)


    As you know, I am a big supporter and have been for years.

    However, I personally feel that censorship or “editorial privilage” really alters the spirit of your new blog format – excluding of course foul, racist or vulgar posts.

    Conflicting opinions and views, a blog make.

    Just my 2 cents.


  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Well, I agree, Drew. I have only booted two folks so far. I don’t like to do it.

    Here are some suggestions for posters.

    1. Don’t keep posting the same thing, using the same example, month after month. Posters who do that have brought down many newsgroups, webboards, and blogs.

    2. Don’t call people you disagree with names like “asshole,” etc.

    3. Don’t attack folks’ religious beliefs unless it is an intellectual argument. For example, you might argue that one religion leads its believers ignore conservation of the Earth. That’s a legitimate post. Saying they are “brain dead idiots” is another matter.

    4. Don’t post under two names in the same thread.

    These are some things that have bothered me on this blog from time-to-time.

    And, of course, as Drew suggests no foul racism, sexism, etc.

  10. Ken Davis (Idaho) Avatar
    Ken Davis (Idaho)

    Funny how all the “stories” that go contrary to the “wolf agenda” are doubted and all the “stories” supporting the “wolf agenda” are taken as fact.

    How do you establish anything as fact without honest investigation? How do you make someone see facts that are contrary to personal beliefs when they absolutly refuse to change what they believe?

    Was Richard Besendorfer telling the truth? Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was telling his version of it … exaggerating.

    Why does he refuse to talk you, Ralph? Maybe he thinks you have an “agenda” and wants no part in it.

  11. Tammy Avatar

    Wow Ralph, interesting read. In regards to Rich refusing to give you any other details, you basically called him a liar in your first post. Why would you think for a second that he was going to waste any of his time telling you anything more? He owes you nothing. In my opinion, your comments towards him were uncalled for and if you really wanted more information on the situation, you could have asked for it without your attitude and arrogance. Apparently, you did not comprehend the fact that he was telling his FRIENDS about this situation as a reminder to us all to be careful out there. There was no hidden agenda…well from him anyway, not so sure about you.

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Yes everything is a maybe. I wouldn’t have questioned the story if he said he ran into some wolves and they following him a ways. That has happened a number of times, and doesn’t seem to be dangerous.

    It was the 15 hours with wolves circling the tent, that is something never reported before and is not believable without further explanation, meaning perhaps a real interesting story, and as you say, maybe exaggerating.

  13. Rob Avatar

    Ralph…..have you considered moving your propaganda farther east….i think your narrowminded concepts would be better recieved by other Americans who don’t have to deal with the havoc wolves have created here in the west…
    Looking forward to the future blog when a child is mauled by a wolf…..”It was the childs fault….he had pointy ears and was wearing a brown coat…wolf thought he was a calf elk”
    Good luck with your quest!!!!!
    “Dances with wolves…cuz they just ate my wife”

    Rob, there are a lot more wolves in Minnesota than in Idaho, and they are concentrated in a much smaller area. Michigan and Wisconsin have more wolves than Wyoming or Montana. Some folks in the West need to study a situation where wolf density is greater.

    Predictions that a child will be eaten have been made since 1995 when Conrad Burns, soon-to-be-ex-senator in Montana, warned that a child would be eaten within a year. If people predict something long enough, it will probably happen. I predict a child, and fact many children will be killed by dogs before one falls to a wolf.

    I have lived in Idaho and Utah all my life. I notice those people who don’t like wolves suppose wolf supporters live back east. Well I am in Eastern Idaho. Most of the people who post here that I know are living in the West.

    I hope someone doesn’t tell that old joke about how we ought to introduce wolves to Central Park. Ralph Maughan

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Tammy, I have an agenda that isn’t secret. It’s reporting wolf and other wildlife news.

    My first post may have been irritating. I apologize. I guess I was taken aback how all the folks on bowhunter forum believed it, just like that and starting talking about how dangerous the wolves are. I should have waiting and posted my query the next day.

    I still offer an invitation to him to tell a complete story.

  15. Tammy Avatar

    Well Ralph, apparently you missed the part where the majority of the people that post on that site know each other personally. In fact, we consider ourselves family. Rich has no reason to lie to us…….he told us what happened so that we were aware of the situation and so that we could be prepared to protect ourselves should need be.
    I think it is funny that you mention he had a ‘duty’ to shoot them. Are you serious??? Had he shot one of them, I have no doubt you would be screaming for his head right now. Not to mention, did you miss the part where he was in a small mountaineering tent??? Have you ever shot a bow??
    And your first post was not irritating, it was insulting. Personally, I don’t think Rich should give you the time of day.

    Yes I said I think people have a duty to harass wolves that are too close, and a person can legally shoot them if they are threatened. The “duty” is not just to wolf conservation, there is a duty to other people in the woods. We don’t want wolves that have become dangerous around. Ralph

  16. Ken Davis (Idaho) Avatar
    Ken Davis (Idaho)

    As Tammy said, most of us on the BowSite Idaho forum know one another. The ones that do not, at least know OF one another.
    I’ve known Richard Besendorfer, although I can’t claim any special relationship to him, for something approaching 7 years. In all that time, I’ve never had cause to question his honesty or accuse him of any sort of exaggeration.

    As to your comments on the BowSite, why do you suppose they were deleted? The site has posting rules very similar to your own.

    I’m not going delete yours unless someone becomes profane, etc. Disagree all you like. Ralph Maughan

  17. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Rob | | IP: just posted using an offensive sexual reference, and his post was deleted

  18. be Avatar

    The first thing that I thought of when hearing the Channel 2 story was, “Wow, that sounds like a huntin’ story.”

    I grew up in Idaho hunting and fishing. One of the greatest aspects of hunting is the stories that family and friends tell after the fact. Perhaps people can relate.

    The most profound ‘truths’ about these stories for me has nothing to do with whether Uncle Mike really took down that spike from 300-yards – with a muzzleloader. I think we all know the technical “facts” have a tendency to get altered somewhere between the hunt and the fire sometimes – with some people.

    The problem I have is when a news-organization takes a huntin’ story, with such widespread and important implications, and plays it up as if it were fact. The facts journalists are supposed to be involved in are completely different than the ones we share between beers after a hunt.

    I understand how some posters could take offense to Dr. Maughan questioning the technicalities if this were a huntin’ story – with hunting stories my word is supposed to be enough. I would never ask any of my buddies the critical questions that Dr. Maughan sought. But with news we are reasonably led to expect that the “journalists” have cut through the suggestions, inferences, and indulgences that may make for a good hunting story – but that don’t stand up to the journalistic standards we need with such a misunderstood and important issue as is at hand with wolves. I think that Dr. Maughan did the right thing when he saw an erroneous story let loose – which contributes to the misunderstanding of the subject – and he took the liberty to contribute in a way which adds to the integrity of our body of knowledge surrounding wolves.

  19. Drew Haskins (Georgia) Avatar
    Drew Haskins (Georgia)


    Nice post – gave me a different slant to ponder.

  20. Robert Hoskins Avatar

    I would like to add support to “be’s” comment. Having been a part of wolf reintroduction for over a decade, I have been distressed by the burgeoning number of wolf stories out there that as a naturalist I know can have no basis in fact. Call them “rural myths.” If I were a folklorist, I might get much pleasure in studying these stories. But as a conservationists and a naturalist, I see that the primary effect of these stories is to reinforce considerable ignorance in the public about wolves, and this ignorance in turn has the practical effect of forcing goverment wildlife agencies to pursue management policies that are harmful and counter-productive–for example, Wyoming’s “dual status” wolf plan that declares wolves to be predatory animals in 80% of the State.

    In other words, peoples’ false stories about wolves have political consequences, not to mention ecological consequences, that leave all of us worse off.

    As far as this particular story is concerned, it doesn’t match up with the findings of decades of scientific work on wolves. It does match up with the structure and content of the various “rural myths” that continue to spring up about wolves. Consequently, it is natural for those of us who are knowledgeable about wolf science and wolf politics to question the story. This is a democracy, and the heart of democracy is to debate the facts, and winnow out the true facts from the false ones. People who make claims about an issue of public import are obligated in a democracy to defend those claims.

    It seems to me to complain about Ralph’s efforts to ferret out the facts of this story is to complain about democratic process.

  21. Ken Davis (Idaho) Avatar
    Ken Davis (Idaho)

    “As far as this particular story is concerned, it doesn’t match up with the findings of decades of scientific work on wolves.”

    So, if it has never happened to this point, it cannot ever happen?

  22. Ken Davis (Idaho) Avatar
    Ken Davis (Idaho)

    I find that sort of “science” mythical, to say the least.

  23. Ken Davis (Idaho) Avatar
    Ken Davis (Idaho)

    One more thing for you wolf advocates/experts.
    What about the native wolves we had in parts of Idaho before the current transplants and their offspring took over? You folks seem big on “conservation” of “endangered” wildlife. How come nobody speaks up, or spoke up before the reintroduction of wolves, for the smaller, native wolves we already had? The ones that have not been seen or heard for about six years now …
    And don’t tell me there were none. I know from personal experience and contact that there were.

    You are are new to my web site, so may not know that I have already written of the wolves in Idaho present at the reintroduction. There were at least 3 males, and each of them met an introduced female and started a wolf pack — The White Clouds Pack, The Thunder Mountain Pack, and the Kelly Creek Pack. Ralph

  24. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Robert, thanks for pointing out that I’m interested in debunking rural (and other myths) about wolf behavior. That’s why I spent to much time trying and enduring a lot of unpleasantness trying to find out the details of this guy’s story.

    Ken Davis asks, “So, if it has never happened to this point, it cannot ever happen?”

    Maybe it could happen. Maybe he had a unique experience. Maybe he was wearing a lot of deer scent, as one posted asked.

    The man who made these claims could answer a lot of questions and make himself believable, or not, beyond those who took as post as gospel or, as BE suggested, beyond those who wink at “Uncle Mike’s” muzzleload hunting tales.

  25. Robert Hoskins Avatar

    I’ve heard the same comments about the existing “native” wolves here in Wyoming. As yet, I cannot confirm the existance of native, breeding wolves anywhere in the Greater Yellowstone prior to the reintroduction, even though I’ve tried. While I don’t doubt that wolves occasionally dispersed from Canada into Idaho and Montana, and thus into northwest Wyoming, in the long years between the time when “native” wolves were extirpated from this country in the 1920s/1930s and when they were reintroduced in 1995, no one has yet been able to substantiate the existence of resident breeding packs, and believe me, it was tried. There was even a lawsuit here in Wyoming over the issue to try and block reintroduction. The evidence for resident wolves didn’t wash, and the lawsuit failed.

    Ken, I would suggest that if you have evidence that wolves were in Idaho as breeding, resident, native packs prior to reintroduction, you should submit that evidence for assessment. A big question in looking at such evidence is, how did native wolves manage to hide themselves for so long?

  26. Jeff Empey Avatar
    Jeff Empey

    As a person who has been a wolf fan for some 30 years, and have read nearly every piece of writing that I could get my hands on over that period of time, plus personel encounters, I must say that the bowhunters account seems to follow the Sports Afield story type more than those that may be found in such books as “WOLVES BEHAVIOR,ECOLOGY,and CONSERVATION. Somewhat entertaining, but more fiction than fact. What I find courious is that at a local sporting goods store there is a tin of 22 bullets that have pictures of the hardy hunter in a tent surrounded by a pack of wolves. Hmmmm.

  27. Bob caesar Avatar
    Bob caesar

    The thing I find hard to understand is – there seem to be a number of posting to this blog that just flat out don’t cotton to wolves, bears, lions, and any critter what eats another critter (except people I’m sure). Given the over all tone of Ralph’s web site, this blog and his history they must have joined just to make poor ole Ralph uncomfortable cause they sure as heck aren’t gonna change his mind. Nor mine.
    Sure, everyone has a point of view, which should be respected (to an extent), but if you just have to argue with every pro-predator post then why not blog down the street with the “save a hundred elk, kill a wolf” crowd.
    Ralph started this for a fair-minded exchange between individuals concerned about the environment and conservation. You’d have to be a total jerk to not realize he (and his blog) are pro-wolf, bear, bison & pro-environment. Hey, maybe I hit the nail on the head there?

    If you don’t mind, Bob, let me add that my original web site was based on some email that I sent to people in the several months after reintroduction, back in 1995. A fellow from Colorado, who knew web, way back then, found the email interesting and created “Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Reports.” I learned HTML, and expanded it gradually to become Ralph Maughan’s Wildlife News. Finally, most recently, Rob Edwards at Sinapu, said “why not move it to a blog format,” and I’ll help? So that’s how this blog came to be.

    For Ken, . . . I was a bit active in the wolf reintroduction back as early as 1993. No big role for me, but when it happened, I was in a good position to get information. As the web site grew, more and more information just flowed in, and the wolf biologists would talk with me because they must have figured I understood and gave a mostly accurate portrait, not that we haven’t had our moments! Ralph Maughan

  28. Layton Avatar


    If only “preaching to the choir” responses are solicited, maybe it should so be stated. Until then I personally will feel free to comment.

    Ralph and I have been corresponding via Email and no, I’m not a “pro” person when it comes to wolves from Canada dumped into my home state to amuse themselves with the wildlife that I have helped to grow and protect here since I was a youngster. BUT I feel that our Emails have been fairly give and take.

    Ralph came onto a site called the Bowsite which does NOT have the same views as the folks here. I pointed him to it as part of our Email correspondence. To say the least he kind of stirred up the “locals” when he called the integrity of the person relaying the story into question, and not very politely at that. Especially since he had NO knowledge of that person – good or bad.

    Then, when one comes to this site, for curiosity or whatever other purpose, -maybe to just figure out who this Maughan guy is – the headline on this portion of it starts with “Idaho Bowhunter” and ends with “very doubtful”. Is there any wonder that some hackles come up??

    Sure, it’s Ralph’s site, he can come out with any sort of headline or teaser that he wants to, but it certainly calls what you refer to as a site for a “fairminded exchange” into question.

  29. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Layton is correct about the emails, and he did give the link to the Bowhunter’s web site where this Richard fellow posted his trapped-in-the-tent story. I was immediately skeptical, but I didn’t think I was especially unpleasant.

    I have no animosity to bowhunting and the website warned newcomers that it wasn’t a forum argue to bowhunting is bad, and my true feeling is that bowhunting is a top grade of hunting.

    Unfortunately, they deleted all my comments and questions for this fellow anyway. As result no one can see whether my questions were appropriate or whether I was a jerk.

    Layton, feel free to post. Please observe the rules, and the same goes to those who reply to Layton.

  30. Jeff Empey Avatar
    Jeff Empey

    What continually amazes me is the attempt to create a brand new species of wolf called the “canadian wolf”. Here’s a news flash, wolves have no idea what side of purely human created lines on a map they live on. And such human created bounderies is not what determines a species or sub-species.There are however two reconized sub-species from which the reintroducted wolves belong to. C.l. occidentalis, or C.l. nubilis, with the former inhabiting mostly the interior Rocky Mountains from what is now northern Montana up to and through-out alaska, and the later inhabiting (historicaly) most of what is now the United States, central Canada up to the arctic circle and the westren area of Canada between the Pacific ocean and the Canadian rockies up to what is now Alaska. I dont believe I ever heard which of these two sub-species was the ones re-introduced but would be interested if any one has that information.

  31. Bob caesar Avatar
    Bob caesar

    I guess I am just wondering why some people choose to spend their time being divisive here when they can go lots of places and lie in bed with those who’d love their company.

    We are all free to do as we please – thankfully! On the other hand any blog like this is bound to attract a few just intent on causing trouble – for no particular reason other than flexing their muscle – as meager as that may be. It would be nice if this could remain a place to discuss things like wolves & wild places w/o stirring up all those who differ with that. And arguing the whole wolf reintroduction thing over and over.

    Hey, we brought them back. Maybe it was a mistake? But, it was our mistake and we owe it to mother nature to make the best of it… Circle my tent for 15 hours – come on!

  32. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    That’s what I have believed — occidentalis and nublilus. What are now the Northern Rockies states were kind of a mixing ground of the two. Maybe this created a perception of another sub-species c. l. irremotus.

    I think a lot of biologists are growing uncomfortable with that category “sub-species.”

    They are doing a lot of genetics work now, and the answer must be out there, although I keep hearing the wolf DNA backlog is huge and growing.

    I see where Dan Stahler, who was on Doug Smith’s wolf team at Yellowstone, is getting his Ph. D. at UCLA in just this thing–wolf genetic analysis

  33. Jeff Empey Avatar
    Jeff Empey

    ”’sub-species” Yes I agree that most sub-species classafication is based more on a biologist wanting a legacy than actual phylogenetic differences, with what was11 or 12 different sub-species pretty much considered as synonyms as c. l. nubilus. If that is indeed the case then it would be a genitic impossibility for the reintroduced wolves to be different from any historical wolf populations in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

  34. Buffaloed Avatar

    The sub-species argument doesn’t really work in the case of animals that are not reproductively isolated and were also, at one time, widespread. It does, however, work well with fish, specifically salmonids that are reproductively isolated.

    Cutthroat trout are a very good example of this. There are numerous sub-species of cutthroat trout throughout the west that became isolated by way of headwater transfer. They have a common ancestor but they vary widely in diet, habitat, appearance, and life history. In fact some sub-species would have a very difficult time, if not impossible time, of living in the habitat of another sub-species.

    Salmon, while not neccesarily reproductively isolated, have a large diversity between stocks. In essence they are reproductively isolated because they can only spawn successfully in certain types of habitat that tends to occur in just a few areas. The salmon have evolved to return to those areas with very little straying thus maintaining their reproductive isolation. The habitat also acts as a filter by removing the individuals that don’t have the neccesary genetics to survive certain conditions. For example some places may select for a specific time to spawn. Fish that don’t spawn in that window of time won’t be successful because thier young might emerge from the gravel too early in the spring when there is no available food. There are many examples of this with salmon alone.

    Wolves are very adaptable, just like people, and they can survive and reproduce under many circumstances and in many areas. They may have a more difficult time in some places but they can move or adapt. It doesn’t have to be a genetic change that makes them more able to survive but some areas might have a predominant suite of genetic charactaristics that do better than others. It may not be a big difference and it may not be the “sub-species” difference.

  35. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I agree.

    A more basic question is were the transplanted wolves of a different phenotype than the wolves of Idaho 200 years ago?

    Again, I don’t think so, for the reasons Buffaloed stated plus the fact they captured wolves that were preying on a variety of animals similar to Yellowstone and Central Idaho — mostly elk, but also moose, and deer; and in the case of the BC wolves, also bison.

  36. Jeff Empey Avatar
    Jeff Empey

    The one thing that does happen with most wildlife is that the farther north a species ranges the physically larger and heavier they tend to be, mainly because heavier and larger withstands cold temps better. The question is at what point does such changes constitute a sub-species. I would say that c. l. arctos meets that criteria but would that mean every thing south of arctos’ range is the same sub- spiecies until we get into the mexican and red?

  37. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Ok, this interesting thread, to say the least, is closed to further comments because it has grown to be very long. Ralph Maughan


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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