March 20, 2023

The Reintroduction of Wolves in the Northern Rockies as a Method of Making Money Under the Guise of Ecological Restoration II

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Read Part I

Wolves were extinct for decades and then Bruce Babbit and others “resurrected” them..

Really? From the Babylonian Looney bin;

“The reintroduction of the wolf after decades of extinction is an extraordinary statement for the American people. It reconnects our historical linkage with the wilderness that is so central to our national character. It admits to past errors and asserts our willingness to correct them” —Bruce Babbit

“Wolves were recovering and thriving under multi-use! That is the “main” objective the “greenies” in our IDFG and USFWS want to cover up, is the fact that both the wolves, and even more so the wolverines were making a “come-back” under multi-use.”—Tim Kemery

When we read about this history consider the human population of Idaho at the time compared to 1995-2013. Wolves were hardly extinct here in Idaho for decades as Bruce Babbit tried to claim. Lets look at a few forests the 1984 study “Wolves of Central Idaho” by Kaminsky and Hanson involved.

Study cooperators were; FWS, Endangered Species Program; Boise Field Office, Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, Univ. Montana. U.S. Forest Service, Region 1 and 4. Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

A hundred years ago, gray Wolves (Canis lupus) ranged over most of Idaho (Goldman 1944; Figure l). The last of these animals were believed to have been extirpated from the mountainous regions of the state by the late 1930s with the removal of wolves from elk and deer winter range near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in 1938 (J.Harris, pers. caoum.). However, reports of wolves persisted, with observations varying from detailed descriptions of large gray canids to droppings consisting of ungulate hair and bone. Such reports, ranging in time from the early 1940s through the mid 1970s received little attention from state and federal resource agencies. Moreover, reports of wolves brought ridicule and cynicism from a doubting public, often peers or hunting companions of those reporting wolves.

In June 1978, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game research biologist observed and photographed a black wolf on the Clearwater National Forest in north central Idaho. During October 1978, a gray wolf was shot and killed 200 miles south on the Boise National Forest of west central Idaho. Newspaper accounts rewritten in review of wolves recent presence in Idaho, lending credibility to both past and present reports.



Twenty-two of 31 reports received since 1974 were rated probable on the Challis NF (Tables 20 and 21). Sixteen probable reports are received by resource agencies (regular reports) while 6 reports were received from elk hunters and none from outfitters during the course of this study. Twelve reports involved observations of wolves, 9 were of tracks and 1 report involved a scat.


Wolf reports on the Challis NF have been consistent over the past 10 years. Except for 1981 when 7 probable reports of wolves were received, probable reports of wolves have ranged between 0 and 3 since 1974. During 1974, wolves were seen near Soldier Mountain Lookout in August and along Knapp Creek during late September. No wolves are again observed on the Challis NF until 1977 near ungulate winter range along Rapid River. Wolves were observed twice in 1978 near the confluence of Cold and Loon creeks during January, and again during November along Little Loon Creek. Three wolf reports were received during 1979 from Big Baldy Mountain and Loon and Mortar creeks. Wolves were reported 3 times in 1980 and 7 times in 1981. Sightings of wolves were reported near Loon Creek and Cape Creek Summit in 1982 and in the vicinity of Seafoam R.S. in 1983. Nineteen of 22 reports of wolves on the Challis NF since 1974 have involved single animals. Two wolves traveling together were observed during 3 consecutive years from 1980-1982. In 12 probable reports involving 15 wolves, 4 predominately gray, 1 black, and 1 buff colored wolf were reported. Based on color differences described in probable reports and the widespread existence of wolf observations including 3 recent reports of 2 wolves together (1980- 82), apparently 3 to 6 wolves have periodically ranged over the Challis NF during the past l0 years.



Thirty-nine of 63 reports received since 1974 were rated probable on the Nezperce ~F (Table 23 and 24). Seventeen probable reports (regular), were received by agencies; 20 resulted from elk {hunter} questionaires and 3 were received from outfitters. Twenty-two reports involved observations of wolves, 15 were of tracks, and 2 were reports of wolves howling.


Thirty-seven of 39 probable wolf reports have occurred on the Nezperce NF since 1978. No wolves were reported on the Nezperce NF during 1974 and 1977. Wolves were reported once during 1975 and 1976, followed by 3 reports in 1978. Four reports were received in 1979 followed ~ by 3 in 1980, 6 in 1981, and 13 of 26 reports received probable ratings in 1982. Eight of 11 reports were rated probable in 1983. Wolf reports are widely distributed on the Nezperce NF. Thirty-four of 39 Nezperce NF probable reports received since 1974 lie outside the S-B Wilderness. The Salmon River breaks and surrounding area (Red River RD) of the Forest is an area outside designated wilderness where wolves have been consistently reported. Presently, much of the area is unroaded. Rolling topography interspersed with meandering meadows are used traditionally by ungulates for parturition and rearing of young elk, deer, and moose {Moose are wiped in there now} Also, the area was typical of habitat used by wolves during Summer months for rearing pups. The remote nature of this area in addition to the availability of young ungulates as vulnerable prey suggested a possible relationship between wolves and ungulates along the Salmon River breaks, Red River RD. This supposition was supported by 29 reports of wolves in this area since 1974 with 16 receiving probable ratings. Wolves were reported six times on the Red River RD during 1978-1980. Observations of wolves or tracks were made near Bear Point, Little Moose creek, and along ungulate winter range near the Salmon River in 1978 followed by reports in 1979 and 1980 from near Blackhawk Mountain, Nipple Mountain, and Crofoot Peak. Five reports of wolves were received in 1981 and 7 of 21 probable reports on the Nezperce NF in 1982 and 1983 occurred on the Red River District.

Wolf reports over the remainder of the Nezperce NF since 1974 ‘were scattered. Since 1974, wolves were reported 18 times west and south of Elk City. Included among these were reports of wolves near Mill Creek in 1980 and northeast of there near Burn Point in 1981. Wolves were seen between the Orogrande Mine and Spring Creek, and at the head of Mule Creek in the Newsome Creek drainage during 1982. During 1983, probable observations of wolves were reported near Sourdough Peak and at the head of Fourmile Creek.


Twenty-nine of 39 wolf reports on the Nezperce NF since 1974 involved lone wolves. Nine probable reports described 2 wolves traveling together, and l report estimated a “pack” of 3 or 4 wolves howling. Paired wolves were reported on the Nezperce NF 16 times since 1974, with 7 of 9 probable reports occurring since 1982. Probable reports of 2 wolves included tracks near Little Moose Creek in January 1978 and a sighting of 2 near Burn Point in 1979. Two wolves were reported twice in November 1982 including 1 buff and 1 dark gray wolf on Radcliff Ridge and 2 medium gray Wolves seen near Hyline Lakes by outfitters. Pairs were reported 4 times in 1983. In September, 1 light and 1 dark gray wolf were seen near Jersey Creek in the vicinity of Mammoth Mountain, and 2 light gray wolves were observed near Meadow Creek. Two wolves were reported twice in 1982 along the head of Bargamin Creek. On October 21, 2 wolves were reported near Fog Mountain. The only report of 3 or more wolves together during the period involved an estimated 3 or 4 wolves howling near Elbow bend above Moose Creek in 1976. The widespread distribution of wolf reports over most of the Nezperce NF makes an estimate of the number of Wolves present on the Forest at -any 1 time difficult. Nonetheless, 30 reported wolf observations from 1978-83 were used to estimate between 2 and 7 wolves on the Nezperce NF since 1978. Eight probable reports involving 7 observations of lone wolves, and 1 of a pair were responsible for an estimate of 2 or 3 wolves on the Forest during 1978-1980. Twenty-two probable wolf reports were recorded on the Nezperce NF from 1981 through 1983. Five lone wolves were observed in 1981. Eleven reports of lone wolves and 6 reports of pairs suggest a possible increase and an estimated 4-7 wolves forest-wide from 1981 to the present.


{{No reports of wolf pups or other evidence to suggest that wolves did or did not produce young have occurred on the Nezperce NF during the past decade. They easily could have done so considering the low impact of back country human travel during those decades.}}


Three to 4 wolves were reported howling near Elbow Bend above Moose Creek in 1976. However, no reports of wolf pups or other evidence to suggest that wolves produced young have occurred on the Nezperce NF during the past decade. Evidence of 2 wolves traveling together was observed on the Forest during 1979, but probable reports of more than 1 wolf were not reported again on the Forest until 1982. Pairs were reported near Hyline Lakes (2 med-gray) and on Radcliffe Ridge (1 tawny, 1 dark) in November, 1982. During 1983, 4 observations of pairs were reported. Other than speculation by observers based on animal size and/or track differences, there is no evidence to suggest a male and female. {This last suggests speculation on the part of the study authors. There also is no evidence to suggest this wasn’t a male and female pair.}


A few wolves are present on the Nezperce NF throughout the year. However, periodic ingress of wolves from surrounding Forests including the Clearwater, Payette, and Bitterroot are also believed a probable source of wolves on the Nezperce. The Clearwater NF is the most probable source of wolves to the Nezperce NF. Migration corridors are listed under Identification of Key Areas.


Five areas are believed key to the conservation of wolves on the Nezperce NF. Designated wilderness (S-B) and adjacent roadless – lands, comprise the majority of these 5 areas. Included are the S-B wilderness, and 4 areas generally referred to as Rhoda, Coolwater, Anderson-Blackhawk, and the Salmon River Breaks. The near contiguous nature of these areas make each equally important to wolves at present. They include areas of key habitat components – necessary to sustain wolves annually and migration corridors for movement between then. Migration corridors outside the Nezperce NF are important to intigrating wolves from adjacent Forests, particularly the Clearwater NF. lntigration may also occur from the east (Bitterroot) and south (Payette). Important migration corridors north of the Nezperce are identified under Clearwater NF. The migration corridor believed most important to wolves from the east (Bitterroot NF) is along Running Creek. Key migration corridors from the ·south are near ungulate wintering areas. These areas include Cove, Cans tack, Blowout, Elkhorn, Mallard, Myers and Bargamin creek drainages. Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (Nezperce NF)

Ungulate winter range along the Selway River in the S-B Wilderness (Map 2) is believed the most important habitat component available to wolves in the S-B Wilderness. The Selway River drainage also supplies a travel corridor between the Nezperce and Bitterroot NFs. Key travel corridors not discussed else where include East Fork moose, Three-Links, Mink, and marten creeks.

Probable reports of wolves have been received from the Coolwater area since 1974. A traditional elk calving and summering area lies along Coolwater Ridge and near the headwaters of Gedney Creek-Glover saddle, and entering areas for elk and deer are located between key ungulate summer range described above and the Selway River (map 2). drainages between Rackliffe and Gedney creeks may supply travel corridors to wolves crossing the Selway River to the south. The primary travel or migration corridor fran the Clearwater NF side of Coolwater (Fire Creek) to the Nezperce is believed to be Glover Creek, and the West Fork of Gedney Creek. Annual needs of the wolf are supplied by the Coolwater area (Map 2).

Anderson-Blackhawk This area includes and is nearly identical to that described as Meadow Creek east (1-845 D) and Meadow Creek west (l-845 C) in the Nezperce NF roadless re- evaluation. Anderson Butte and Blackhawk Mountain provide two prominent land narks along the western edge of the area. Anderson-Blackhawk includes roadless areas X-1226, X-1227, and X-1228 which surround key ungulate summer range in the Horse and Fall Creek drainages (Map 2) and border Meadow Creek west. These areas lie adjacent to and west of the S-B Wilderness. Together, the S-B Wilderness and roadless areas described as Anderson-Blackhawk supply all key wolf habitat components necessary to sustain wolves. Probable reports of both lone wolves and pairs have occurred in Anderson-Blackhawk since 1974.

Trend and Distribution of Wolves

Wolves in the mountains of central Idaho were less abundant and more widely distributed than wolves remaining in the southeast during 1900-1939. Small packs of 3 to 5 ranged regularly within a few localized areas, however transiency by lone wolves and pairs over large areas was reportedly more common. This pattern of occurrence is believed representative of wolf activity in central Idaho during the period.

Wolf packs ranged within central Idaho during the early 1900?s. A pack of wolves frequented the Thunder Mountain area during 1905 and 1915 (Kaminski and Boss 1981), and a pack numbering 3 or 4 wolves traveled over an area west of the “White Clouds” from 1918 to the late 1920?s. Ted Williams trapped and outfitted in the area from 1918 to 1975 and indicated that the pack traveled near the meadows” at the head of Warm Springs creek and along Bear Lake creek and Martin, Pigtail, and Williams creeks before making a loop to Robinson Bar Peak and back to Warm Springs. Williams also trapped from Alturas Lake to Stanley Lake and observed lone wolves and occasional pairs near Elk and Meadow creeks, on South Fork Payette winter range in 1919 and 1920 feeding on winter killed deer, along the Deadwood River in 1923, and in Bear Valley during the late 20?s and 30?s where wolves were believed traveling alone (M. Fitzgerald, C. Johnson, pers. cammun.). A pair of wolves ranged near Peace Creek on the Boise NF for several years during the early 1930?s (Kaminski and Boss 1981).

Wolves were infrequently observed and believed scarce along the Forks of the Salmon River. Wolves or sign were rare along the South Fork Salmon River during the 20?s and 30?s (L. Cox pers. camun.) and were believed to be few in number along the Middle Fork Salmon River from 1910 to the late 1930?s. Ed Budell lived and trapped throughout the Middle Fork during the 20?s and 30?s, frequenting Chamberlain Basin during summers and the Middle Fork near Pungo Creek during winters. Budell believed wolves were rare in the Middle Fork country (pers. cammun.), as did Daisy Tappan who lived with her family on the Middle Fork from 1912 through 1940. Tappan believed wolves were extremely scattered and rare through much of the Middle Fork country, occurring primarily alone but at times in pairs. The only sign she observed were tracks of a lone wolf near the mouth of Pistol Creek during 1915 (D.Tappan, pers. canmun.).

{{Keep in mind here during these same years cougars pops were high, and elk and deer pops were low. Idaho brought in elk from YNP during this time frame.}}

Wolf densities were low in central Idaho during the mid to late 1930?s. Lone wolves and pairs were again reported frequenting Thunder Mountain and Monunental Creek during the late 1930?s and early 1940?s (D. Charley, from H. Wadley, pers. cammun.). The last wolves killed by control efforts (FWS) were near the Middle Fork of the Salmon between 1928 and 1936. A small pack may have frequented that area during 1933-1934 (8 wolves killed); however, 2 wolves taken during a 2-year period (1929-30), and single wolves killed in 1931-32 and 1935-36 -(Table 3) may be further evidence of wolves’ low numbers near the Middle Fork and surrounding areas during the period.

North-North central

Trend and Distribution of Prey Ungulates available to wolves as a prey source varied in their abundance and distribution north of the main Salmon River. White-tailed deer appear to have been abundant, however, elk were more localized in small areas of habitat. Beaver were occasionally found along tributaries to the Lochsa, Selway, and Clearwater rivers but were generally believed to be scarce (J. Turner, B. Moore, J. Lykins pers. cammun.). Farther south, beaver also appear to have been scarce along the Red River and its tributaries (W. York, pers. cannun.).

Moose were distributed along the Lochsa and Clearwater river breaks during the early 1900?s (J. Turner, pers. cammun.) while deer, especially white- tails, were abundant throughout north and north-central Idaho. Elk gradually increased along the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers after the fire of 1910, but they were present only in small and scattered groups prior to then due to poaching (IDFG 1905-06, J. Turner, pers. cammun.). Elk were protected from 1911 to 1917 and responded by increasing through the early 20?s in Bonner, Kootenai, Shoshone, Latah, Nezperce, Clearwater, and Idaho counties. Elk were numerous near Elk Summit and Horse Heaven in 1914 (Vv. Agee, L. Rupe, B. Moore, pers. camun.). Transplants to the Selway game preserve from Yellowstone in 1917 followed by protection resulted in a substantial increase of elk along tributaries of the Selway River including Old Man creek, Three-Links creek, Ballinger creek, Meadow creek, and near Fog Mountain by 1923 (ID8G 1923-24). Elk remained absent however, from the country surrounding Elk City and Red River to the breaks of the Salmon River until the early 1930?s (W. York, pres. cammun., Hawley 1920, Defenbach 1933, Kowalsky 1964). A group of 12 elk near Blackhawk Mountain in 1931 were among the first observed in the Elk City area (York, pers. cammun.) and were believed to have migrated from the Selway. Elk numbers had steadily increased in the Elk City area by the late 30?s (York, pers. canmun., J. Lykins pers cammun., ID8G 1936-38).

Trend and Distribution of Wolves

Wolves ranging north of the Salmon river to the upper Clearwater drainage during 1900-1939 were similar to wolves of central Idaho in that they too ranged over large areas as loners and pairs. Evidence suggests packs of wolves were absent from this region as early as 1910, however, packs of up to 7 wolves were present nearer the U.S.-Canadian border during the period (V. Black, pers. cammun.). Wolves traveled the Lochsa, Selway and Clearwater drainages of north central Idaho on an infrequent basis, wandering widely and most often alone during the early 1900?s (J. Turner, B. Moore, L. Rupe, pers. cammun.). Jay Turner guided and trapped over much of that country from 1908 to 1940 and never observed sign of more than one wolf at a time during summers or winters. He referred to Wolves as “stragglers” ranging back and forth between Montana and Idaho, and found evidence of lone wolves from the Montana line to Powell, from Elk Meadows along Beaver Ridge to Fish Lake, and north of the Lochsa in the Cayuse and Wietas creek drainages. Turner never observed evidence to suggest wolves were numerous, producing young, or traveling as packs (J. Turner, pers. cammun.). Outfitters in the Selway also indicated wolves were rare in the area from 1910 through the 30?s (D. McPherson, pers. cammun.). Bud· Moore outfitted and trapped from the Montana line along the Lochsa, Clearwater, and Selway drainages from the 1920 ‘ s until the early 40?s and rarely observed wolves or their sign. Based on his own experience and that of other trappers in the area, Moore felt wolves were few in number, traveled alone, and frequented the Bitterroot range While trailing migrating elk between Idaho and Montana (Moore, pers. camun.). Lloyd Rupe (1911) and later Jack Parsall (1921), Rangers at Mbose Creek until 1924 also felt wolves were rare in the Selway drainage, finding only occasional evidence of them near Elk Summit and near Big Sand Lake (D. Parsall, W. Agee pers. cammun.). Limited evidence reviewed also suggests wolves’ absence over what is now the Nezperce NF, from south of the S. Fork Clearwater to the Salmon River breaks west of the Selway River to Dixie. No evidence of wolves was found from the Montana line to Red River by W. York who homesteaded there in 1914, and hunted and trapped over much of the area near Elk City and Bargamin, Rurming, and meadow creeks during the 1920?s and 30?s (W. York, pers. canmun.).

Thus, wolves appear to have been present only occasionally over much of north central Idaho from 1900-1939. Wolves were more numerous near the Idaho-Canadian border where packs of up to 7 wolves ranged southward over the Pack River divide and along the Priest River side of Baldy Mountain during the late -teens and early 1920?s (V. Black, pers. cammun.). Wolf packs of varying size, though rarely more than 11 animals, were observed northwest of Coeur d’Alene between Spirit Lake and Blanchard, and along the Priest River during the period (J. Smith, L. Black; V. Black, pers. cannm.).

Control of Wolves

Records of the numbers and species of predators killed during early control efforts in Idaho were unavailable, making a determination of the number of wolves killed (1900 to 1915) and their whereabouts difficult. In 1907, the U.S. Government distributed pamphlets describing control methods for wolves and coyotes and reported 1800 wolves killed in the west during that year (USDA Agriculture Yearbook 1908). Though numbers of wolves were not tallied for individual states, in Idaho, State Game Warden Arbuckle reported it might be well to add that a great many predatory animals have been destroyed by poisoning ••• and never reported to this Department 11 (IDFG 1907). In 1915, the U.S. Biological Survey (BS) became principally involved in organizing and leading operations to systematically remove predators from private and federal lands (U.S. Agriculture Yearbook 1927:774-776). Shortly after this time (1919-1920), IDFG trappers were placed near major ungulate winter ranges in the Salmon Selway, Boise, Payette, and Clearwater river drainages to trap and poison predators (IDFG 1919-1920). Frozen meat balls laced with strychnine, and #3 Jump-traps were used from the late teens through the 1940?s -and 50’s (Turner, pers. camrnun., IDBG 1919-1955).

During the same period (1919-1935), livestock, primarily sheep, were being grazed on NF land throughout north and central Idaho. Nine million sheep grazed western NF lands during this period (Agric. Yearbook 1926-28). Along the Middle Fork of the Salmon, 2800 sheep grazed winter range on the west side of the drainage during the severe winter of 1919-1920, while 3200 were wintered there (near White Creek) during 1921~22. Large die-offs. of both sheep and deer resulted from competition and over-utilization of the range (IDFG 1921-22). Domestic sheep were seldom wintered in the Lochsa .. and Selway drainages, but were grazed extensively throughout the Clearwater, Lochsa, and Selway drainages during summer and fall (J. Turner, B. Moore, L. Rupe, D. McPherson pers. camrnun.) from the early 1920?s to mid 30?s. Sheep were trailed over the Clearwater NF from Pierce to Superior, Montana and back while additional bands were sumrrered along the upper drainages of the Lochsa and Selway rivers to the Montana- Idaho line. Sheep were also grazed with cattle near the upper reaches of Red River, Meadow, Bargamin and Lynx creek drainages and near Green Mountain. For the most part, depredations on sheep in the preceding areas were caused by bears and coyotes with many of each shot or poisoned by herders (D. McPherson, B. ~bore, J. Turner pers. carnmun.). Numerous grizzlies were shot near the headwaters of the Selway along the Bitterroots during the period. (B. Moore pers. cammun.). Regardless of depredating offenders, the potential for wolf mortalities are obvious. Wolves present throughout each of the preceding areas most certainly would have fed on poisoned baits. ·Moreover, it would be unreason-able to assume wolves seen by herders with rifles would be spared. Thus, wolves were susceptible to being shot, trapped or poisoned year-round in the mountains of north-central Idaho on seasonal ranges grazed by native ungulates in winter, and lives tock on summer ranges during the l 920 and 30? s. From mountains and plains alike, the FWS Biological Survey (BS) killed 6,032 wolves in 14 western states during an 11-year period (1915-1926). Large gray or lobo wolves have been almost cleared from livestock ranges, and instead of occurring in large numbers and pulling down cattle and game as formerly, only a few scattered individuals are now at large.

{{Being hunted this harshly the wolf still made it through}}

Where their presence is reported on range, they are promptly taken by skilled men trained in this service” (Bell; Agriculture Yearbook 1927:776). Kaminski and Boss ( 1981) chronicled wolf numbers taken from Idaho during this period, totaling ~58 poisoned, bountied, trapped, or shot between 1919-1928; 184 in a 2-year period (1919-1920). Locations Where wolves were killed during the period are not available other than reference to 35 removed from southern Idaho during the early 1920?s (IDBG 1921-1922). The FWS recorded 12 wolves taken from near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River between 1928 and 1936, the last Idaho wolves for Which there are records. No account was made for wolves that may have been poisoned during the period (Kaminski and Boss 1981) Although predator control records (Table 3) are by no means complete in their representation of wolves killed in Idaho, they are suggestive of the persistence of control efforts from the early 1900?s to the mid 30?s. Evidence of the wolf decline from 1860-1900, and the widespread use of poison by fur trappers, stockmen, and later government trappers in a systematic effort to exterminate wolves and other predators, leave little reason to speculate that many wolves were left in Idaho by the late 1930?s.

Aulerich (1964) suggested that wolves surviving the control period in the West did so scattered throughout large tracts of national forest lands. U.S. Forest Service records estimated 48 wolves remained on national forest lands in Idaho during 1939 (Young 1944) (Table 4).

{If anyone wants copies of the tables let me know-I need to photo them and place here}}

{{ Now below authors speculate 40 wolves wouldn’t be in Central Idaho during the 1900-1939 time frame. We must consider that vastness of Central Idaho, travel was by foot or horse. The roads and trails were all dirt. All of Central Idaho was a wild rarely traveled place. There were vast forests then not here today due to fires. And wolves would be avoiding humans. So this speculation could go either way.}}

Considering the preceding evidence (1900-1939) FS estimates of nearly 40 wolves in central Idaho seam high. Little basis for such estimates was found, and Young (1944) seemed skeptical about many wolves remaining on FS lands in Idaho by 1944. Nonetheless, some wolves did survive the control period on FS lands. Wolves remaining in central Idaho, particularly south of. The Salmon River, were probable survivors of control, though some evidently did not last long. Nonetheless, persistence of wolves throughout central Idaho is somewhat remarkable, and suggestive that either l ) depredations on livestock and subsequent predator control were not as intense in remote and mountainous portions of central Idaho as in other areas, or 2) that relatively frequent pairing by wolves, though not necessarily breeders, may have produced pups of which a few survived. A supposition offered here is that both were true.

Farther north near the Selway, Lochsa, and Clearwater drainages, wolves either survived control or drifted southward from north Idaho (Selkirks) where wolf packs ranged during the early 1950?s. migration from Canada (Alberta) or Montana are also possibilities but seem less likely. Despite a dramatic increase of wolves over much of northern Alberta, they remained scarce in the southwest corner of the province during the 1940?s. By the early 1950?s wolves again were drastically reduced by poisoning over most of Alberta (Gunson 1982). During this time, wolves were only occasionally reported in northwest Montana where their numbers had declined due to poisoning near Glacier (Singer 1975) and Waterton Parks (Mattson and Ream 1980).

Whatever their origin, few wolves were left in Idaho during the 1940?s and 50?s with survivors widely distributed and predominantly alone throughout the northern and central portions of the state. Influences on Wolves Population trends of available prey, presence of livestock, and predator control had varied effects on wolves in Idaho during 1940-1959.

Ungulate populations (elk, deer, moose) throughout north and central Idaho generally increased during the 40?s and 50?s (IDFG 1938-1950), despite severe winters on overstocked ranges (Middle Fork Salmon, South Fork Payette), occasional outbreaks of disease, and over harvest in localized areas. In north central Idaho, elk and deer multiplied substantially, due largely to vegetative changes caused by fires in 1929 and 1934 (ID8G 1940-42, B. Mbore, J. Turner pers. cammun.). By 1950, elk in the Lochsa, Clearwater and Selway drainages had become the largest herd in the state (ID8G 1949-50). Elk also appear to have been stable or gradually increasing over most of central Idaho. Deer (white-tailed and mule) were distributed widely and numbered nearly 200,000 statewide by 1950. Beaver underwent a transplanting program to restore them to suitable habitat in areas of central Idaho. and were transplanted to the RONR wilderness during the mid 1940?s and from 1950 to 1955 in the S-B. (D. McPherson, J. Smith, pers. commun).

One possible but unknown influence during this and previous periods (1860-1900, 1900-1939) involves potential competition between two predators preying predominantly on ungulates: the wolf and cougar. Cougar were historically reported “numerous” in the Middle Fork Salmon River (IDFG, 1911-1950, B. Sullivan, D. Tappan, P. Williams, L. Jacklin, J. Smith, pers. cammun.). Coyotes traveling in packs (IDFG 1926-27) also preyed on mule deer and could have had influence on lone wolves. Evidence reviewed does not suggest prey populations were ever substantially affected or reduced as a result of predation (IDFG Biennial Reports, historical sources).

{{Elmer Keith – Hell I was There, and Cougar David Lewis, both would disagree with IDFG on evidence that prey populations were ever substantially effected as a result of predation. Keith called IDFG predator lovers}}

However, each of the above predators were distributed over much of north and central Idaho in varying numbers, and inter-specific competition in localized areas could potentially have been keen with resultant effects on predators rather than prey. The scarcity of elk over much of central Idaho from 1900-mid l930 may have intensified such competition. Influences on wolves posed by increasing numbers of cattle and sheep on FS lands were probably most closely tied to predator control. No known instances or records of livestock depredations by wolves in Idaho were reported during the period. However, poison baiting of carcasses using strychnine until the mid 50?s, followed later by “1080 represented potentially lethal consequences for lone and scattered wolves near summer range or allotments. No evidence or records of wolves poisoned were found.

{{No Evidence found only means no evidence found and does not mean anything either way}} {{Keep in mind that today many people still do not see wolves in the wild}}

Distribution of Wolves

Reports of wolves during 1940-1959 reflect little change in their status (loners, pairs) from the previous period (1900-1939). Southeast Only limited evidence of wolves was found in southeast Idaho during the 1940?s and 50?s. Either very few wolves remained and were seldom reported, or those who knew of wolves were inadvertently missed during attempts to gather information about wolves from long-time backcountry residents. Easier access and increased settlement accompanied by increasing agriculture, livestock, and continued predator control may well have resulted in fewer wolves and reports in the southeast during the period.

Wolves continued to be reported along the divide from west of Yellowstone Park to the Lemhi range where a few wolves were believed to remain during the 40?s. (F. Yowell, pers. canrnun.). Wolves also were thought to be present in the upper Pahsimeroi (F. Richardson, pers. camun.) and small packs (2 to 4); of Wolves may have persisted near Timber and Eightmile creeks near the Salmon NF in 1945 (Yowell, pers. cammun.). Generally, wolves were seldom observed and no wolves were reported killed in southeast Idaho by predator control efforts during the period (L. Jacklin, J. Nancolis, pers. carnmun.).


Wolves continued to be reported over most of central Idaho. Wolves were reported 9 times on the Boise NF from 1941 to 1957. Six of those occasions involved 2 wolves together. A pair was trapped together in 1941 and 1 of 2 was killed by a FWS trapper in 1947. Wolves were observed on 3 occasions in 1947, while another wolf was shot from a pair in 1951. Wolves were again observed in 1955 (pair, single) and in 1957 (pair) on the Boise NF (Kaminski and Boss 1981). Thus in 9 observations involving 15 wolves over a 16 year period (1941- 1957), 4 wolves were killed, each time from a pair. No packs of wolves or reproduction were reported during the period.

Wolves were also present in the Payette, Sawtooth and Challis NF. Two wolves were observed on the south end of Chamberlain ~Basin near Coxey Creek and the Snowshoe Mine during 1956-59 (J. Gillihand, pers. cammun.). Gillihand outfitted and guided near Big Creek from 1956 to 1972. He never saw more than two wolves together and felt the same two some was repeatedly observed by hunters and guides during a 3-year period. In the same area, lone Wolves and infrequent pairs were seen traveling near Thunder Mountain.

Wolves continued to be rare near the Middle and South forks of the Salmon River during the 1940?s and 50?s. Louis Rebillet regularily traveled the South Fork from the mouth of the Secesh River to Mackay Bar and Elk Creek during winters, and from Warren to the Willy Ranch during summers from 1946 to 1962. Rebillet never observed what he felt was evidence of a wolf. Similarily, on the Middle Fork (Salmon) neither outfitters (B. Sullivan, N. Guth, B. Cole, pers. carnmun.) nor IDFG trappers (L. Jacklin, J. Snith, pers. cammun.) could recall having seen evidence of wolves during the period except for a lone wolf seen near Loon Creek in 1958 (J. Pepcorn pers. cammun.). Lone wolves continually were seen near Stanley Basin and the Sawtooths during_the late 1940s and 50?s. A lone wolf was observed near meadow Creek west of Stanley Lake during the Fall of 1949 (B. Sullivan pers. cammun.) and in the fall of 1954 Ted Williams (P. Wiliams pers. cammun.) heard a lone wolf howling near Elk Lake. Lone wolves were observed near Cape Horn during early winter of 1958 and 1959 (J. Pepcorn, pers. camun.)


Though a few wolves may have been in north central Idaho during the 1940?s and 50?s, they were seldom seen and apparently were scarce. Lone wolves ranged widely and appear to have shown little affinity for any 1 area (B. Moore, J. Turz1er, C. Morrison, J. Lykins pers. camun.). Only 1 of 9 observations of wolves in the area reported more than a single animal. A lone wolf was observed on Beaver Ridge in the Lochsa drainage in the early 1940?s (J. Turner, pers. ca1tnin.) and 2 wolves were seen on several occasions near upper Bear Creek (Selway) during the mid 40?s. Lone wolves were observed twice in nearby Cub Creek during the early 1950?s (J. Lykins pers. cammun.). and a wolf was heard howling by several observers above Elbow bend on Moose Creek in 1949 (D. Parsall pers. cammun.). Loners were again reported near Eagle Point in 1948 (J. Nygaard pers. cammun.) and fighting with coyotes near Lake Creek in 1950 (J. Turner pers. cammun.). A single wolf was on Cook Mountain near the head of Smith Creek in the late 1940?s (G. Stimmel pers. commun.).

Others frequently reported lone wolves on Cook Mountain during the late 1940?s and early 1950?s. No reports of pack activity or pups were made during the period in north central Idaho, suggesting outfitters and trappers supposition of lone wolves transiency over the area during the 40?s and 50?s is valid. Wolves may have occasionally drifted to north central Idaho from the Panhandle. IDFG and FWS predator control trappers reported packs of wolves and scattered individuals near the canadian border (B.C.) during the early 1950?s .

Presence of wolves along the Idaho-B.C. border during this time is best explained by wolves’ reclaiming former range at relatively high numbers in B.C. (Tampa 1982:21) and Alberta (Mattson and Ream 1980, Gunson 1982), prior to the poisoning campaigns of the early 1950?s (Tampa 1982, Gunson 1982). Leo Black trapped the border area from 1917 to 1976 for federal and state agencies and reported “several wolves trapped near Blue Lake, Bonners Ferry, and along the Priest River during the 1950?s” (V. Black, pers. camun.). John Smith (IDFG) also trapped the area during the early 1950?s and reported wolves traveling along the Priest and other drainage bottoms northwest of Coeur d’Alene. During deep snow years, Smith observed tracks of a pack of 12 wolves near Spirit Lake in 1952, and a pack numbering 7 in 1953 (J. Smith pers. commun.) •


{{Really? Large Mountain Coyotes? Yeah sure}}

The total number of wolf reports from 1960 through 1973 approximately doubled those of previous periods (1900-1939, 1940-1959). However, the increase in number of reports is not believed to represent a significant increase of wolves in Idaho. The increase of reports may reflect small changes in the number of wolves, particularily in localized areas; however, an increase of hunters and backcountry visitors, in addition to subsequent mistaken identities or confusion of wolves with large mountain coyotes are also believed partly responsible for the increase in reports. Of those historical sources contacted about wolves and believed to be creditable nearly all made reference to coyotes or “brushwolves, 11 large mountain coyotes, and gray wolves with distinctions between each. Further reference to similarities between large mountain coyotes and wolves were made in IDFG Biennial Reports. In the Selway drainage, Warden Jones (IDFG 1921-22) observed 11 coyotes in that [Selway] district were the largest I have ever seen and more the nature, size, and habits of a timber wolf. While conducting a winter game survey along the Middle Fork Salmon River, S.B. Locke noted “The coyotes in this section are the large mountain type, and depend on deer to a considerable extent, particularly in winter.” (IDFG 1926-28) .

{{They were seeing Timber wolves}}

Despite the fact these observations were made nearly 40 years prior to the period (1960 through 1973) discussed, such observations remain indicative of the size and nature of Mountain coyotes and confusion that could result by unfamiliar observers. Thus, wolves may indeed have been fewer than reports suggest as backcountry usage increased during the period .

Lone wolves and pairs reportedly ranged over FS lands during the period but very few packs were observed. Continued drift of a few wolves from the north through central Idaho, possible survivors from earlier breeders, and periodic reproduction (Chamberlain Basin, this period) are probable sources of their sustained existance in Idaho. Few if any wolves remained in southeast Idaho until the latter part of the period when reports of wolves increased near Yellowstone Park.


Few reports describe the presence of gray wolves from 1960 through 1973, suggesting their near disappearance over most of the southeast by the mid to late 1960?s. Increased settlement and shrinking of remote habitat combined with a paucity of reports are believed indicative of wolves’ absence. Along the Lemhi range and continental divide, wolves may have persisted and were consistently reported during the late 1960?s and early 70?s. Reports of wolves increased west of Yellowstone Park beginning around 1970. Varying numbers, including single wolves, pairs, and groups of 3 or more wolves together were reported. Of 8 reports from 1963 through 1970, 3 involved 4 or more wolves (4, 8, ll) and 3 reports were of pairs (M. Rath, Beaverhead files). Groups of wolves ranging from 2 to 9 were also reported on the Targhee NF during the early 1970?s. A surreptitious release of wolves has been suggested (Weaver 1978). Possibly, wolves released on the west side of the Park could have drifted outside and along the continental divide. Wolves of varied numbers were reported near the divide and centennial Mountains during the early 1970?s (Flath, 1979).


Reliable reports, predominantly of lone wolves and pairs accompanied by occasional sightings of pups, and/or groups of 3 or more wolves together suggest wolves remained in central Idaho during 1960 through 1973. The majority of reports during this period cane from the Challis, Boise, and Payette national forests where wolves were reported 38 times during the 13-year period. All but two reports were of lone wolves or pairs.

However, reports during the summer-fall period could have resulted from observations of pack members traveling alone or paired, or possibly at homesites.

Wolves were observed 10 times on or near the Challis NF during the period. In Stanley Basin, lone wolves were reported near Cape Horn, Valley Creek, Decker Flat. and Hellroaring Creek from 1960 through 1966 (H. Wadly, M. Williams, B. Wooley from H. Wadly pers. M. Williams). On the Challis NF near Seafoam, a pair of wolves regularly traveled Greyhound Ridge during the mid to late l960s and a wolf was seen in the same general area near Jolsefas Lake in 1970 (Kaminski and Boss 1981). Closer to the Middle Fork of the Salmon, a pair of wolves were reported traveling along Loon Greek in 1966 (B. Sullivan pers. cammun.), and again during 1969-1970 near Soldier Mountain-Jackass Flat (Karrrlnski and Boss 1981).

Of 15 reports on the Boise NF fran 1960 through 1973, 13 described lone wolves. Five reports were widely distributed over the Forest between 1965 and 1969, located from the Middle Fork Payette River ( 165) on the west to GrandJean (near Trail Creek; ’65) in the east and Fall Creek (’65) to the south (Kaminski and Boss 1981). A male, female, and pups were reported near Poison Creek by a FWS trapper in 1970 followed by an observation of a single wolf a day later in the same drainage.

Eight remaining reports came from Bear Valley in the Boise NF where wolves appear to have ranged since the early 1900?s. A ranger observed lone Wolves near Elk Creek, Wet Meadows and Bruce Meadow in 1961, 1963, and 1967 (W. Pavlett pers. cammun.). Wolves were observed on 5 occasions from 1970 through 1973, 4 of which involved a dark gray wolf frequenting Bearskin and Wet Meadows during 1970 to 1972. Two Wolves, both dark gray and one slightly larger than the other were observed in the area during 1973. Observers speculated that a den site may have been in the area during 1972 due to the “young” appearance of a wolf during the fall of that year (E.T. Evans pers. camun.; Kaminski and Boss 1981). Thirteen reports described wolves on the Payette NF during the period, all came from within or near Chamberlain Basin. Observations of adult and young wolves and pairs during the 60?s, and a pack of 8 including 6 pups in 1966, suggest wolves may have been More numerous in Chamberlain than during previous years. A few wolves appear to have ranged over most of Chamberlain Basin during summers and falls from 1965 to 1968.

A former IDFG conservation officer observed a large buff colored canid that he believed was neither a dog nor coyote near Chamberlain airstrip during the summer of 1965 or 66 (B. Dorris per. cammun.). During September, two buff colored wolves were observed northwest of the airstrip near the West Fork of Chamberlain Creek by an outfitter while guiding elk hunters in the area (T. Beeler pers. cammun.). In November, across the Basin (east) toward Cold Meadows, 2 outfitters observed canid tracks they believed far too big to be of coyotes after a recent snowstorm (S. Potts pers. cammun.). Two sets of tracks were nearly as large as Pott’s hand when placed in the snow next to than. Five or 6 sets of tracks slightly smaller trailed the larger t.racks along Dog Creek toward Hot Springs meadow. The tracks left the trail approximately l mile before reaching the outfitter’s camp. Later the same night, wolves were heard howling, possibly bringing horses and mules from an adjacent meadow into a makeshift corral. Upon ·shining a light in the direction the horses and mules had came, outfitters and hunters in camp nearby observed what they believed were 8 wolves standing near the meadow’s edge. Early the following morning, wolves were again heard howling, and their tracks were observed in the snow. A hunter reportedly shot and killed a pup during the same day and returned to camp with the tail (S. Potts pers. cammun.).

Potts continued outfitting in the area until 1976 but never again observed evidence of wolves. Reports suggest other outfitters in the area saw wolves but were reluctant to indicate their presence. Still others simply did not observe wolves. In addition, a researcher working in calving areas during 1965 through 67 could not recall ever having seen evidence of wolves in his study areas during the period (L. HaydenWing pers. cammun.). Nonetheless, wolves continued to be reported in the Chamberlain area. A buff colored wolf was again seen near the West Fork of Chamberlain Creek in October 1967 by an outfitter and 2 hunters (T. Beeler pers. cammun.). Lone wolves were observed twice more during 1965 and 1966, and across the Basin to the south Wolves were seen “regularly” although never more than a pair. John Gillihand outfitted near Charmberlain from 1956 to 1972 and indicated wolves were most often observed from the late 1950?s to the mid 1960?s. During that time, a pair of wolves frequented the Snowshoe Mine, Coxey Creek and Crooked creek. The same 2 wolves were believed to have been observed in the area over a period of 5-6 years. Lone wolves were seen near Snowslide, Bismark, West Fork of Monumental, East Fork and Crooked creeks from the mid 1960?s to the early 1970?s. A pair of “light-colored” wolves were reportedly seen near Cold Meadows between 1969 and 1972, and another loner (buff) was observed as it watched a group of 25 to 30 elk cows and calves near Hand Meadows in 1971. Wolf pups, a light colored, and black wolf were observed in Snowslide and W. Fork Monumental creek during the summer and fall of 1971 and 72; once again suggesting that wolves produced young.

Despite what might appear to be a “stable” number of wolves present during the period, outfitters that saw wolves in the area (some did not) readily admit wolves were not abundant and on many occasions the same wolves were seen over a number of weeks, months, and years (J. Gillihand, B. Gillihand, M. Williams pers. canmun.). Though wolves occasionally were reported in the area through the late 70?s it was generally agreed that observations of wolves decreased significantly after 1971-72 (B. Gillihand pers. commun.). A majority of outfitters and guides contacted about wolves in central Idaho and the Middle Fork Salmon drainage noted rarely seeing wolves or their evidence during the early 1970?s or before. Thus, an increase of reports and perhaps wolves seems possible. As always, second and third-hand information is difficult to interpret. Nonetheless, I believe a few wolves were present and may have produced pups as suggested. Their fate however remains unclear. At least 2 wolves were shot (Kaminski, unpubl.) and others may well have traveled out of the area {S. Potts pers. canrun.), ranging widely over adjacent forests. Such transiency by a few wolves on FS lands probably was responsible for continued reports over large areas.

North Central

Wolves were reported in north central Idaho from 1960 through 1973, predominantly on the Clearwater N.F. Wolves were reported on 14 occasions on the Clearwater NF and 4 on the Nezperce NF during the period. Three of 18 reports involved 3 or more wolves together, once again suggesting wolves sometimes traveled in groups or produced young during the late 1960?s. Nonetheless, the majority of reports of wolves still show them few in number, scattered, and mostly alone during the period. On the Nezperce NF, 2 reports involved groups of at least 3 wolves during 1967-68 and may be of some relation to the possible presence of a pack of wolves in Chamberlain Basin during 1965-66. An outfitter on the Nezperce NF indicated seeing a pack of wolves north of the Salmon River near Bargamin Creek during the fall of 1967, 1 year after 8 wolves had been observed in Chamberlain Basin (S. Potts pers. cammun. ).

During the fall of 1968, tracks of 3 wolves, 1 measuring 5 inches, and 2 “slightly smaller” were observed near a freshly killed elk carcass. An outfitter and hunting party had shot an elk between Big and Little Mallard creeks during a snowstorm and after dressing the carcass, left it overnight. Upon returning the following morning, the carcass had been fed on and was accompanied by tracks of 3 canids much too large to be coyotes (T. Rarrsey pers. cammun.). Lone wolves were reported between 1970 and 1973 near Moose Butte, Burpee Mountain, and chasing a deer near Rhett Creek.

Farther north on the Clearwater NF, wolves appear to have ranged on either side of the Lochsa River. A set of tracks believed too large to be coyote were observe~ near Papoose creek below Powell in 1961 (D. McPherson pers. cammun.). A black wolf was reported over 3 successive years between Boulder and Split creeks during the early 1970?s, each time near Highway 12 during winter (J. Rose ·pers. cammun.). Just north of the Lochsa Drainage, evidence of lone wolves was seen on 5 occasions near Liz creek, Wietas creek and Castle Butte, and a pair were near Middle Creek from 1969-1973. A pack of 6 wolves including 1 black and 5 gray wolves were reported to IDFG during October, 1969 (Kaminski and Boss1981) near Weitas creek. Lone wolves of similar description continued to be reported on Cook Mbuntain particularily near Wietas creek (J. Renshawpers. canrun.) and between Shot and Bill creeks on Cook Mbuntain during the early 1970?s (J. Leisnri, G. Stirr.rr.el, B. Crick, pers. canrun.).

Babbit and countless others are incredibly misinformed.