Outdoors

Wolf experts confront the myth about native vs. re-introduced wolves

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf specialist Ed Bangs, seen here during collaring operations in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., in January 2002, is surprised at how much their numbers have grown in the decade since gray wolves were reintroduced in the area. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf specialist Ed Bangs, seen here during collaring operations in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., in January 2002, is surprised at how much their numbers have grown in the decade since gray wolves were reintroduced in the area. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

WILDLIFE — After a letter to the editor on Sunday made claims about gray wolves that don't seem to be substantiated published wildlife science, I asked for a reaction from several wolf experts.  Some of that information appears today in my weekly Outdoors column.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie biologist Gary Wiles, principal author of the state's wolf plan, offered this explanation dealing directly with the claim that re-introduced wolves from Canada are “super wolves” compared with the wolves that were in this region before they were extirpated in the 1940s.

“The idea that native wolves were ‘much smaller’ and ‘do not engage in lust killing’ is not substantiated by any scientific proof. 

“The name Canis lupus irremotus is dated and no longer considered scientifically valid.  It is now considered part of the subspecies Canis lupus nubilus, which includes wolves formerly present in the U.S. Great Plains and most of the western U.S. and currently still present in northeastern Canada.  This subspecies is variable in size, but is not substantially smaller than Canis lupus occidentalis of western Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.  Current subspecies designations are based primarily on genetics and skull morphology. 

A complete explanation is in the WDFW's  answers to Wolf FAQs (frequently asked questions).




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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