"Idaho Wolves: Myths and Facts" replaced with new web site

For a long time we had a link to “Idaho Wolves: Myths and Facts.” Many people used it to get accurate facts on the number of livestock killed by wolves, effects on big game herds, etc.

Because of its success a new, much more ambitious web site of a similar nature has replaced it. It is Wolves in the West. The new web site gives more facts and does it for not just Idaho, but Montana and Wyoming too.






  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    This is a good effort but there needs to be much more information about where these wolves come from (some only 500 miles away from Central Idaho). They do make the point that these wolves are the same as those that existed here before they were exterminated but I think they could and should make a much stronger case. There are more incidents than the one mentioned of a wolf coming from Canada, in fact one with a GPS collar came to Idaho this year. I’m wondering if they possibly confused the ’91 incident with this year’s incident because the Kelly Creek wolf here in ’91 had a radio collar and the wolf this year had a GPS collar. There were 3 males in Idaho when the reintroduction occurred which presumably came from Canada as well (we’ll never know for sure though). The one in Kelly Creek, the one from the White Cloud Pack and one in the Thunder Mountain Pack. There are other examples of wolves entering Montana from Canada. Washington State’s new wolf pack recolonized on their own from Canada as well. Don’t forget the Swan Lake female that dispersed ±300 miles and was hit on the interstate near Idaho Springs, Colorado and the numerous incidents of dispersing wolves that traveled similarly long distances.

    It should also be mentioned that Jim McClure played an integral role in the decision to reintroduce wolves. He wanted the control that the “experimental non-essential”, or 10(j), designation would give to ranchers that would not have been in place had the wolves recolonized on their own from Canada.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    You’re certainly correct about these things Buffaloed, and they should be notified.

  3. Layton Avatar

    If these wolves were coming from Canada all along — which was one of the excuses used to intro. the wolves from Canada into the three state area — how come the “lack of genetic exchange” is the big excuse that Malloy used to give control back to the feds??

    I guess you folks CAN have it BOTH ways!!

  4. Buffaloed Avatar

    Layton is oversimplifying again.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Three or four wolves coming down from Canada can not form a genetically diverse population.

    That is especially true because all those that made it to Idaho from Canada and survived were male wolves 😉

  6. Layton Avatar

    Now wait a minute.

    Oversimplifying?? Does or does not the ESA forbid introducing a different animal on top of a native population?

    The justification used for introducing Canadian wolves was that “wolves in the northwest travel to such a great extent that there is no true “different” subspecies to worry about”– or words to that effect.

    Now a lawsuit has been filed and an injunction requested (and obtained) that says something to the effect that there is no genetic exchange among the distinct populations within the meta population and therefore control should not be given over to the states.

    Sorry if I can’t just type up 48,000 pages of BS like a lawsuit would have, but isn’t that what was done??

    It looks to me like you folks have used the same thing two different ways. If the wolves coming from Canada couldn’t form a “diverse population” then why was it OK to bring in Canadian wolves??

    Ralph, I’m assuming here that there was, in fact, a girl wolf or two in the mix. 8)


  7. Buffaloed Avatar

    Ralph said this: “all those that made it to Idaho from Canada and survived were male wolves” He and I were referring to the wolves who made it on their own before the reintroduction not the wolves who were reintroduced.

    You need to do some research and figure out what the definition of a metapopulation is and what makes them effective then get back to us. The gray wolves of North America were historically one expansive population until they were exterminated. Now they have become metapopulations in some areas and they need to interact genetically to maintain viability. The wolves in the Northern Rockies have not done that especially with regard to providing the genetic exchange TO the Yellowstone area population and between the Canadian population and the three defined populations.

    You seem to be thinking that the three populations have become one but at this point they have not, and will not, under the proposed management plans. This is a required component under the ESA for recovery purposes.

    These are not “Canadian” wolves they are grey wolves. Just because they came from Canada does not make them different in the way that many would like you to think they are. That being said, they still need to interbreed to maintain a viable population. If you want an example of what a non-viable population looks like just look at the Florida panther (actually a mountain lion), the pygmy rabbits and sage grouse of Washington State, and numerous other populations that went from a vast expansive population to small unconnected metapopulations.

    With regard to the “native population” you speak of, how does 3 male wolves make a “population”? Everyone knows that homosexual male wolves can’t have pups.

    As far as whether the reintroduction should have occurred is now a moot point. It did occur and there are wolves here once again. Would you have preferred the alternative of having wolves recolonize the Northern Rockies on their own without any control over depredation on livestock? That’s what would have happened, and did happen, in northwest Montana and northern Idaho but there was a period where wolves there lived under the 10(j) rule even though they were an actual native population.

  8. JB Avatar

    “It looks to me like you folks have used the same thing two different ways. If the wolves coming from Canada couldn’t form a “diverse population” then why was it OK to bring in Canadian wolves??”

    ROFLOL! Sorry, I saw this comment coming as soon as I was half way through Buffaloed’s original post.

    “Does or does not the ESA forbid introducing a different animal on top of a native population?”

    The 10j rules do not allow for reintroducing an experimental population on top of an existing population (for obvious reasons). You could, however, augment existing wild populations with other animals–they just would not be able to be considered experimental populations. So, if you really want to push this point, the correct action should be to revoke 10j experimental status (which would mean no control for livestock depredation).

    “The justification used for introducing Canadian wolves was …”

    Just to clarify Buffaloed’s point. In 1995 and 1996 the FWS RE-introduced gray wolves (canis lupus) taken from Canada. As far as I am aware there is no species or subspecies called “Canadian wolves,” and the word “introduction” implies that gray wolves were not here to begin with, which, of course, they were.

  9. Layton Avatar


    “With regard to the “native population” you speak of, how does 3 male wolves make a “population”? Everyone knows that homosexual male wolves can’t have pups.”

    Hey, we agree on something!! BUT who, exactly, is talking about a “population” of three male wolves??

    We had wolves here in Idaho — BEFORE the current intro was done — anybody that has lived here for awhile and especially anyone that hunted in the Bear Valley area knew this — it has been brought out on this blog before, it’s not new news!!

    I know I won’t win the argument — hell, you folks got the books on the number of subspecies of wolves changed, how would I stand a chance. Just thought I’d throw in a word or two to let you know that you don’t fool everyone. All you had to do was convince your pet judge in Montana.

    “As far as whether the reintroduction should have occurred is now a moot point. It did occur and there are wolves here once again. Would you have preferred the alternative of having wolves recolonize the Northern Rockies on their own without any control over depredation on livestock?”

    ABSOLUTELY!! That would have been at least partially natural. I wouldn’t, and most of the people that I know wouldn’t, be hollering about something that happened like that.

    BTW there Buffaloed, another entry on this blog points to an article in USA Today that says there were only 25 buffalo in Yellowstone in1901, they developed into what some folks called the Buffalo Field Campaign evidently consider a “viable” population, why does it take so many more wolves?? Yep, I know, they don’t walk so far — right??


  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There wasn’t a population of wolves in Idaho before the reintroduction unless you call scattered individuals from time to time a population, and biologists didn’t and don’t. It doesn’t matter if these wolves came down from Canada or flew in from Mars. Nonbreeding individuals are not a population in a biological meaning of the word, and that’s the definition that counts.


  11. Buffaloed Avatar

    Let’s say you are right, which I highly doubt, about people’s attitudes about naturally recolonizing wolves from the same population that the reintroduced wolves came from. Do you honestly think that they would have any different impact than the reintroduced wolves? You do realize that wolves which would have recolonized under these circumstances would have full protection under the ESA and couldn’t legally be killed for any reason other than threatening the life of a human? Do you honestly believe that people would have supported their recolonization to the Northern Rockies under these circumstances?

    I would have supported that scenario but I doubt that you and your buddies would have after they started showing up in the Owyhees or your favorite hunting grounds.

    I tell you one thing, the same people who don’t support the reintroduction of wolves don’t support protection of grizzly bears which are trying to recolonize parts of Idaho. The same goes for buffalo that are trying to recolonize Idaho. There are unconfirmed rumors that some were killed in Idaho in the last month by the Idaho Department of Agriculture and it has happened before on several occasions.

    I would argue that the herd of Yellowstone buffalo is not a viable herd due to the fact that so many are being killed in a manner that selects a certain segment of the population (the population that seeks lower elevations during winter and the population that test positive for exposure to brucellosis). That is a selective pressure which, over time, is likely to negatively impact the viability of the herd if it hasn’t already.

    I argue that the Yellowstone herd should be given the opportunity to establish metapopulations which do interact genetically with the Yellowstone herd. And I would prefer that they do it naturally. I guarantee you that there are several jackasses who will oppose that as an option and I don’t think that negotiating it with ranchers is possible. That is only possible through litigation.

    – – – –

    . . . and I was thinking maybe the population will have to be back bred by some new sophisticated genetic technique. RM

  12. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Buffaloed sayes
    “Layton is oversimplifying again.”
    Actually that is a highly complex train of thought: considering the source.

  13. Layton Avatar

    Ah yes Jeffy,

    As normal — here with the shitty comments, but no real contribution. Did your mommy let you play with the big computer machine again??


  14. Layton Avatar

    By the way Jeffy,

    “sayes” which I took to mean “says” as in “he or she says” is really spelled S-A-Y-S. Have your mommy look it up in the big spelling book that you will get next year in the third grade!!

    Bedtime now — nighty night.


  15. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    having any kind of conversation with you is like talking to a box of rocks. you are STILL calling grey wolves Canadian wolves. Can you spell moron. I just enjoy pulling your chain every now and then because it works, every time.

  16. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Now watch, Layton will say ya, you spell moron JEFF E.
    so predictable.

  17. Buffaloed Avatar

    Notice the CMIYC in Layton’s posts. I know what that means.

    I wonder if he is referring to something he said in one of his previous posts about carrying a gun around everywhere he goes now that the judge didn’t rule the way his logic would have had him rule.

    Do you want to clarify what you mean Layton or do you think we aren’t noticing what I think is some kind of taunt?

  18. JB Avatar

    This quibbling about the Malloy’s decision is ridiculous. In 2004 FWS dismissed Wyoming’s plan as wholly inadequate and described, in no uncertain terms, why it was inadequate. Then, 2.5 years later they did an about face without explanation. You could not find a better example of arbitrary and capricious decision-making.

  19. Peter Kiermeir Avatar

    Pro-wolf actor: We want to welcome those polish wolves in Germany after 150 years
    Anti-wolf actor: You can´t let them in after all they are from Poland!!!
    Pro-wolf actor: Hey come one, they are wolves. Almost identical to those you eradicated years ago, maybe a little more brownish.
    Anti-wolf actor: Yes but they speak only polish, makes it difficult for the sheep to understand what they want to do in the middle of the night.
    Pro-wolf actor: But you eradicated all german speaking wolves years ago, none are left?
    Anti-wolf actor: Now you got the point. You cant let polish wolves in because of the language barrier and because everybody from Poland steals your cars and – what a pity – I´m soooooo sorrrrrry, no german speaking wolves are available anymore. Means: No wolves at all!
    Could it be that your Canadian wolves only speak French? And those Texmex wolves only Spanish?

  20. Buffaloed Avatar


    The only way to tell the “Canadian” wolves from the ones that were here before is that they howl different. It goes like this…

  21. John Avatar

    Well put Buffaloed.

    The only people who I hear complaints about wolves from are those that want to see them dead or simply want an excuse for inciting others to kill.
    Anti Wolf: Wild tales of monster wolves 300 lbs, killing entire herds of healthy ungulates for the sake of it (domestic or wild – take your pick), ripping apart dogs in front of the owner, stalking children, attacking and eating hikers, responsible for over 200 deaths in the US in the past century.

    Wolf Watchers/ Pro Wolf/ Non-violent ect: a far more pleasant experience and opinion on the subject. Strange no?

  22. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    I see the “Canadian Super-Woof” urban myth still refuses to die. Heck, Cat Urbigkit recently wrote an entire book on it.

    It reminds me of trying to have a reasonable discussion with the “evolution isn’t really real, because it’s JUST a theory” philosophy.

    Wolves do not gain some sort of mythical super powers at the Canadian border, we really did land on the moon, and 9-11 was not an inside job.

  23. JB Avatar

    Hal: I think it would be more appropriate to refer to the “Canadian Super-Wolf” nonsense as a “rural” myth.

  24. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I like the way you put this, and in fact there are a lot of other rural myths that are harmful to wildlife.

    It might be interesting to have a thread where some of these are identified.

  25. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000


    “Radical/liberal environmentalist activist judges” is another one.

  26. JB Avatar

    “It might be interesting to have a thread where some of these are identified.”

    I’m all for it! I’m fascinated by the “group think” that has developed surrounding wolves and would be very interested to see what other myths folks could unearth.


  27. cobra Avatar

    I’ve heard over the last couple of years that there has been some big foot sightings on the North Fork of the CDA river, the wolf population is also growing up the river, I know there are fewer Big Foot than wolves so which one takes presidence. I would think that with far fewer bigfoots that we should probably do something to thin down the wolves, I would hate to see a species go extinct because of predation by wolves. Even one bigfoot killed by a pack is to many, genetic exchange is already difficult enough if not impossible for the large primates.

  28. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Very clever, cobra.

  29. Peter Kiermeir Avatar
    Peter Kiermeir

    That is another example of a species gaining strength in rural myth. From Opossum to Bigfoot, a true success story! Do you already sell tags for hunting Bigfoot? Or do you just SSS them? How much is a Bigfoot tag compared to a wolf tag? Baaaah, and you really BBQ rats and apes?

  30. JB Avatar

    “Do you already sell tags for hunting Bigfoot?”

    Peter: I don’t know if I’d call it a “myth” but you have certainly identified a misperception common among hunters; that is, a species only has value if you can sell a tag to kill it or if it feeds an animal that you can sell a tag to kill. This is dogma among SFW members, though they’re smart enough never to put it in those terms.

  31. John Avatar

    All you need now is a hybridisation myth manufactured by rural lobbies (both hunting and farming) and you guys will be just like Australia.

    And you -don’t- want to be like Australia (when it comes to environmental issues).

  32. vicki Avatar

    I was actually asked recently if wolf lovers are “sneaking” them into Colorado.
    Ofcourse I was so happy to roll up my sleeves and show off the claw marks and puncture wounds I got when I loaded the pack of eight into my trunk. I showed the guy me with the pack in front of the Welcome To Colorful Colorado sign.
    People are extremely gullable.
    I also got asked if ‘businesses that are solar powered would have to close at dark.’ People are so badly in need of education.

  33. JB Avatar

    Okay, here are a couple that are of the “black helicopter” variety:

    (1) When back home visiting family, I had a few hunters insist that the Michigan DNR was deliberately introducing cougars in areas with high deer densities in order to control the deer population.

    Here’s an even better one…

    (2) Some folks in Ohio insist that the state DNR has used helicopters to drop rattlesnakes into rural areas; apparently (no joke) the rattlesnakes were wearing PARACHUTES.

  34. Buffaloed Avatar

    I remember hearing a story from an IDFG person about how he was confronted by someone in Riggins, Idaho about how the IDFG was stocking grizzly bears, wolves, and rattlesnakes in the area.

    I’ve also heard the stories about Yellowstone rangers being asked questions like:
    Why do they put the blue stuff in the lake?
    Why are the those little red dogs hanging out with the buffalo?
    When do the deer turn into elk/moose?

    As a fisheries person I overheard someone explaining that the trout hanging out with the salmon were bull trout that were going to dig up the eggs so they could eat them. They were actually jack Chinook salmon, or males that only spend one year in the ocean as compared to 2 or three. FYI, they die just like the rest of them. That’s the biggest misconception I would run across with people.

  35. Ryan Avatar

    “Wolf Watchers/ Pro Wolf/ Non-violent ect: a far more pleasant experience and opinion on the subject. Strange no?”

    Absolutely not true John. There are assholes on both sides of this issue. People who lump all ranchers and hunters into either cablea queens or welfare ranchers. Who claim the only people who were anti wolf reintroduction are unedcuated rednecks.


    “Radical/liberal environmentalist activist judges” is another one.

    Not true as well, look at the list of cases that are overturned from the 9th circuit.

  36. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I just put up a separate thread on rural legends


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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan