Dispelling The Canadian Wolf Myth

This is an April 2010 post that deserves another look. I wrote it after the 2009 wolf hunts had finally ended. Five hundred wolves were dead.

In light of the massacre I wanted to lay waste to one of the most idiotic anti-wolf myths that has grown legs and repeated over and over by the wolf hating crowd. Its goes something like this: The government reintroduced super wolves from Canada in 1995 who are bigger, more aggressive and alien to the US, wolves who previously had never stepped one toe in the Northern Rockies until 1995.   It’s a common mantra spread by the anti-wolf crowd and is not grounded in fact. But hey why bother with pesky facts? They just get in the way of demonizing wolves.

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Dispelling The Canadian Wolf Myth

April 12, 2010

If I had a dollar every time I heard the derogatory term “Non-Native Canadian wolf”, I’d be rich.

The myth goes something like this. Wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone and Central Idaho in 1995 were a larger, non-native, more aggressive wolf then the wolves who roamed the Northern Rockies before the Western extermination. This kind of thinking and rhetoric is what fuels wolf hatred in the first place. When nasty rumors and stories get started they develop legs. Pretty soon people are repeating it as if it’s fact. My advice would be to do a little research on the history of wolves and their morphology, instead of repeating rumors and innuendo. But this myth has nothing to do with the search for truth, it’s all about demonizing wolves. Please make it your business to shed light on these fairy tales. The wolves will thank you.

I wonder how many people who make these claims have ever seen a wild wolf? I’ve been lucky to view wild wolves. One of my Malamutes, who passed away several years ago, was bigger and weighed more than any wolf I’ve ever encountered. He was 180 lbs full-grown. He was so tall he could actually eat food right off the kitchen counter. But unlike the wolf his body was stockier. Wolves have long legs, big feet and large heads, their bodies are also longer than dogs. This gives them the appearance of being bigger then they actually are. Wolves in the Northern Rockies weigh on average between 80-110 lbs. Wolves also weigh more when their bellies are full. That’s because after a kill wolves gorge on a meal because they may not eat again for several days. It’s feast or famine for the wolf. Remember, only one in ten wolf hunts is successful. They expend a great deal of energy during the hunt and very often have nothing to show for it.

Did you know 31% of the wolves killed in Montana’s hunt were under a year of age (juveniles) and weighed an average of 62 lbs.  31% were yearlings and weighed about 80 lbs. 62% of wolves killed in Montana’s wolf hunt in 2009 were a year old or under a year of age, in other words, PUPPIES! Shocked? Only 38% of wolves killed in Montana’s hunt were adults, weighing an average 97 lbs. The largest wolf weighed 117 lbs. Again way smaller than my Malamute. The average weight of wolves killed in the Idaho hunt was under a 100 lbs.

There is strong evidence the two subspecies of wolves that roamed the Rocky Mountains north and south of the Canadian border for tens of thousands of years (Canis Lupus Occidentalis – The Mackenzie Valley wolf) and (Canis Lupus Irremotus -The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf) mixed their genes. Some believe the Mackenzie Valley wolves bred the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf out of existence, instead of the government eliminating them.

It’s a specious argument, not grounded in science, to state Canis Lupus Occidentalis is a non-native wolf from Canada who was foisted upon the Northern Rockies region. In fact wolves know no boundaries and regularly cross back and forth between Canada and the US. There is no doubt sub-species exchanged DNA, making it almost impossible to tell how much of one subspecies is contained in another.

The number of wolf subspecies has been debated in the scientific world for some time, ranging from 24 to just 5. The one thing we do know is different subspecies of wolves mate and share their DNA. The truth is, wolves are wolves, with slight variations in height, weight or fur color.

Think how silly the notion is when you consider humans created the boundaries between Canada and the US. To wolves it’s all the same landscape. They do what wolves do, breed, form packs and when they’re old enough,  strike out on their own, looking for new territory and a mate. It’s really that simple. Wolf thy name is wanderlust.

Wolves have large territories and travel great distances to establish a place for themselves. Does anyone truly believe wolves didn’t freely cross borders before they were exterminated in the West? Invisible lines created by humans have no meaning for wolves. They go as they please, truly free yet horribly persecuted, never knowing why.

Wolves are great wanderers and can travel an average of 25 miles per day while hunting. One Scandinavian wolf, pursued by hunters, traveled 125 miles in 24 hours. Wolves have runners bodies, lean and sleek. David Mech, the wolf biologist once stated “Wolves are fed by their feet.” Covering ground, exploring, seeking new territory, is bound to the wolves’ soul.  One only has to read the tale of wolf 314f, just a year and a half old, who traveled from her home in Montana to a lonely hillside in Colorado  called No Name Ridge, where she was found dead under suspicious circumstances. She logged a thousand miles on her GPS collar during her amazing journey. Wolves are great adventurers and travelers.

Do wolf haters think there is some imaginary line at the border between Canada and the US that wolves didn’t dare cross? How ridiculous is that?

Long before the reintroduction, wolves made their way back to the US in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, dispersing from Canada to Glacier National Park,  They formed the Camas, Wigwam and Magic packs and these packs were not small, some numbering twenty to thirty wolves. Does this sound like an animal who’s afraid to cross an invisible line they’ve been navigating for thousands of years, long before Canada and the United States were even a thought?

It follows that sub-species of wolves will mix their genes and basically become a combination of both. The myth that wolves reintroduced from Canada are somehow enormous super wolves who never set foot on American soil before reintroduction, is ludicrous. If you don’t believe me listen to experts on the subject, who have worked with wolves for years and understand their morphology.

Carter Niermeyer Interview (Outdoor Idaho) Spring 2009 (Carter Niermeyer was the Idaho Wolf Recovery Coordinator for USFWS from 2000 to 2006)

Q.There are those who say we brought the wrong wolves into Idaho in 1995 and 1996, that they’re bigger wolves than the ones that were here.

CN: I have to support the science again, and specialists in morphology and genetics on wolves indicate that the wolf that was brought down from Canada is the same wolf that lived here previously. And I did some research into books on early wolves that were captured in the Northern Rockies, even as far south as Colorado during the days that wolves were being hunted down in the 1930s; and the body weights were very much the same.

So I feel that this wolf that was brought from Canada is the same species and genetics as the wolves that lived here once upon a time. I think people have to remember that the northern Rockies — we call it the northern Rockies in Idaho and Montana, but actually we’re a southern extension of the northern Rockies out of Canada — and all of those wolves in Canada have the potential and the ability to disperse. I believe what happened over the last 50-60 years is that individual wolves have come from Canada following the Rocky Mountain chain and ended up periodically in places like Montana and Idaho.

Or Mike Jimenez (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and Wyoming wolf recovery coordinator)

Jimenez disputed claims that the wolves reintroduced from Canada in the mid-1990s are a larger, more aggressive breed than had historically lived in Wyoming.

While scientists once divided wolves into 24 subspecies, he said more recent DNA evidence shows five subspecies in North America. Further, given the fact that wolves tend to disburse hundreds of miles, he said wolves from Canada likely interbred with Wyoming wolves and vice versa before they were exterminated from the region.

“The idea that those Canadian wolves are different … the argument gets weak,” he said. “Where they transition from one subspecies to the next is totally up for grabs.”

People cling to anti-wolf myths because wolves have become scapegoats for anti-government feelings. Many anti-wolfers believe reintroducing wolves was forced on them even though bringing wolves home to the Northern Rockies was not a rogue scheme dreamed up by a few government biologists. It was supported by many Americans. In fact a poll taken in 1990 found two-thirds of Montanans supported bringing wolves back to the state. Even so, it was a huge battle that waged for decades because the same, small, vocal minority that opposes wolves today were against them then, IE: ranchers, hunters and outfitters.

The feds finally compromised and classified wolves as an non-essential experimental population, which meant they could be shot and killed for agribusiness.

The little known fact is Wildlife Services has been killing wolves for years, along with the wolf hunts in 2009/2010. Still without ESA protection wolves would NEVER have been able to make any kind of comeback. It’s been their saving grace and now sadly they are at the mercy of their enemies once again.

What’s behind the giant Canadian wolf myth that’s passed off as truth? I believe it’s fear of competition. Many hunters don’t want to share the woods or compete with wolves. They liked it when wolves were gone and elk were complacent, standing around all day, munching down aspen trees, never allowing them to get any taller than a few feet. Apparently hunters like lazy, slow elk, ones that are easier to kill.  Since the return of the wolf, elk are no longer complacent, their old nemesis is back and they know it.  I think Carter Niermeyer hit the nail on the head when he said:

“Hunters look at the wolf from many angles and perspectives, too, and I have to emphasize that I’m a hunter. Certainly wolves compete, but I don’t think they’re any excuse for not being a successful hunter. There’s tremendous numbers of game animals available to sportsman and with a little effort and sleuth, you still have great potential to collect a wild animal from hunting. I don’t know what the excuse was before wolves, but it has become the main excuse now for unsuccessful hunters. I mean, there are just so many other issues involved in why hunters are not successful, but the wolf is a lame excuse.”

It’s necessary to spread untruths about wolves to further the agenda of getting rid of them or make excuses for why a particular hunter wasn’t able to “get his elk” during hunting season. I’ve reported over and over that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation trumpeted in the their Spring 2009 press release that elk numbers were up 44% nationally since 1984, when the organization was founded. They stated the elk herds in Montana, Colorado and Utah  increased between 50-70 percent.  The Montana elk population stood at 150,000 and Idaho at 105,000.  I guess that wasn’t good news to everyone, since it doesn’t fit in with the “wolf is decimating all the elk” argument. Hunters whine that elk numbers may be up in the state but down in some areas. Ummmmmm that’s how nature works. And I hate to break it to the elk hunters but it’s not all about them. Wolf advocates opinions are being ignored. We’ve had to watch in horror as wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List and hunted almost immediately.

This was unforgivable behavior by the states and certainly didn’t earn any points with wolf supporters about the states intent to “manage” wolves fairly.  It’s not a secret  a conflict of interest exists when it comes to state game agencies “managing/killing” predators.  They want to please their customers, the hunters, who demand more game. The saddest part of this story is wolves were brought back only to be used for target practice fifteen years later.

Carter  Niermeyer states:

It’s a little late now, but I wish that when the states assume management of wolves that there could have been some kind of a moratorium where the states took the responsibility and didn’t jump right into a wolf harvest, or a wolf culling, or whatever you want to call it. It would’ve been nice, I think, to establish some credibility with wolf advocates and conservationists, environmentalists and people who appreciate wolves for other values. And just sort of get a handle on things and get a feel for managing the wolf. Because there’s this perception that suddenly we’re going from a listed animal to a hunted animal and I think a lot of the public is having a struggle with coming along with that.

The other thing I wish could happen, too, is there’d be more dialogue between the broad term wolf advocates and the Fish and Game Department and talk about these issues more openly, because the conservation groups have been a close ally in getting wolf recovery moving forward and actually being partners, and now there seems to be this falling out and a relationship that’s deteriorating.

Wolf advocates are rightly upset to see wolves hunted at all, especially freshly off the Endangered Species List.

I wonder how hunters would feel if over 40% of the elk herd was killed in one season. What would they think of a seven month-long elk hunt like the state of Idaho imposed on wolves?

Are Canadians laughing at us when they hear the Canadian super-wolf myth? Does this mean Canadians are superior hunters, who seem to have no trouble bagging game with their Canadian monster wolves roaming the countryside?

The truth is wolves in the Northern Rockies today are the same wolves that were here before the extermination.  It’s not about how tall wolves are or how much they weigh or the color of their fur. This myth arose to turn wolves into aliens, to assert they don’t belong here, when in reality wolves have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, this is THEIR home.  In contrast to cattle, a non-native species, that destroys native grasses, releases methane and tramples the landscape. Of course I don’t blame cattle, they are just another exploited animal.

Hunters by their very nature are in the business of killing and not all hunters can shoot straight or are ethical. There are people who hunt out of their rigs, while drinking.  Gut shot deer roam the forest during hunting season, leaving blood trails until they finally collapse and die. I’ve seen deer with arrows sticking out of them, barely able to stand.

If anyone has seen Predator Derby pictures of bloody dead coyotes, or dead wolves displayed by their killers, who show  no respect, smiling like they’ve just won the lottery, understand it’s not the wolf that’s the deadliest predator. Wolves kill to survive. The cruelest predator of all is man. No giant wolf myth can compete with that!

HOWL for speaking the truth about wolves!

“May we all never be judged by anything so harshly or hold to as strict a life or unremitting of borders as the ones we try to place on and around wolves”…Rick Bass 1992 

Photo Courtesy Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Posted in: Wolf myths, Wolf Wars

Tags: wolf subspecies, wolf myths, wolves in the crossfire, wolf intolerance, demonizing wolves

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18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There is no reason to harm wolfs or any animal unless it’s harming you or your family
    Remember we are taking over there home not them taking over ours

  2. Amazing article. Factional and all too true. I do not understand the slaughter of these social animals. Before all this ‘let’s kill all wolves’ began, hunters would go out and hunt the elk, moose, deer. No problems. What happened? There is no logic or common sense in this slaughtering. The wolves aren’t bothering them. If a wolf takes a livestock, it’s so seldom. People kill livestock many more times over than the wolf. HELLO McDonalds, etc! Apparently the wolf haven’t killed enough to remove these animals off any restaurant menu or any human’s dinner plate. I think that maybe some of these farmers and hunters ate something bad and turned them into lunatic Neanderthals that now cannot shoot a moose, elk, or deer unless it’s standing as still as a barn. Aren’t they pathetic! And as far a the wolf crossing the border…maybe they had papers…unlike many two-legged creatures. I cannot believe that people are so utterly stupid. If I had a pool, I surely would not invite these brainless Neanderthals to swim in it….unless they agreed to keep their ‘accidents’ at their end. Good luck!

  3. Wolves are not the problem. Hysterics is the problem, hysterics among anti-wolf minds and their lies, distortions and myths. Wolves are not having a significant depredation impact on wildlife or ranching. Less than 1% (.0048 %) of stock is killed by wolves in Montana and ranchers are reimbursed. Wolves are not harming elk or deer populations. Elk populations in Montana, in general, have been going up for years now with increasing wolf populations, from 89,000 in 1989 to over 140,000 plus now.

    The rider political shenanigans of delisting the wolf, by Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Idaho Representative Simpson (all ranchers) in April 2011, opened a Pandora’s Box and it is spreading state to state. It is time to re-list the wolves. They should be managed regionally or nationally, not micro-man-managed locally, not by vocal-local-yokels, not by hostile FWP agencies, not by sportsmen groups, not by ranchers. Wildlife agencies and newspapers should be educating these stubborn minds, at least trying to, instead of going along with them.

    This rigid kill, kill, attitude of MT FWP, ID, WY, USFWS, USDA Wildlife Services is going to endanger them as a species again. In fact what is going on is a similar replay of the past with the union of ranchers, hunters, wildlife agencies. Wolves would stabilize themselves, and mutually stabilize with ungulate herds and other wildlife. Wolves have an ancient beneficial relationship to their prey and the general flora and fauna ecology. Nature can handle it best without human interference.

  4. Emotions in reasoning, even choosing to reason, and to get involved in an issue that motivates are useful in moving us to oppose the trapping and torture of another sentient being. There are several questions other than this barbarism: The elk population has greatly increased while wolves have made their re-introduction, from around 89, 000 in 1989 to over 140,000 now in Montana. So, should we believe the Rocky Mountain elk Foundation that wolves need to be “managed” so we have more elk? The depredation on livestock is less than 1% (.004), so should we be listening to ranchers that wolves need to be “managed” to protect livestock. FWP and federal agencies have always assumed that predators need to be “managed” and they have always mostly listened to ranchers and “sportsmen”. Emotional reasoning can be sound reasoning or not. In the case of ranchers, sportsmen, and wildlife agencies there seems to be a gut level, visceral, emotional center of the brain dominance when it comes to wolves. They seem to think differently, not so much from the cognitive areas of the brain. Maybe they are mostly republicans.

    I just read a book, “The Republican Brain” by Chris Mooney which compares the republican and liberal brain. It seems that the republican brain operates more from emotionally charged beliefs than reason and their reasoning is more motivated reasoning on a number of topics, so much so that they are denying reality. The republican brain is more recalcitrant to change and tends to dig in against the face of contrary evidence. The republican brain is more authoritative and individualistic versus egalitarian and communitarian. They kind of like black or white, either or, concrete reasoning. The republican brain is not comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty and less able to use integrative reasoning. The liberal brain is cognitively hungry, seeks knowledge and facts, will change in the face of contrary evidence, and is comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. It seems that republicans sound more they are reciting canons or the party line than reason and have to be in control and they must control the wolf even if it does not need as much control as they say. So, they want to kill them by the hundreds or thousands, keep them under control, versus just dealing with particular problem wolves or packs.

    But trying to reason with them, might as well talk to your shoelaces. So the appeals to protect wolves from marginalization and from their barbarisms will have to be made to the general public.

    • Is not Ken Salazar under the Obama administration? I guess what I’m saying is that this is not a right or left issue, it is a moral, ethical issue that can be blamed on anyone who abides by the horrors of today. Putting it all on Republicans or Democrats does not do any good, in my opinion. Correct me if I am wrong.

      • It is that the anti-wolf minds think more like the far right on this issue, more from the amygdala/emotional center of the brain rather than the cortex, which has been found to be true on a number of issues dear to them. In Montana, WY, ID, WI it is the right that has solidly lined up anti-wolf. Salazar is a carry over from the Bush years. Thinking from belief systems rather and being impervious to science, logic or facts is mostly a republican brain issue. When confronted by opposing science, logic or facts, they dig in even further, whereas as liberals will usually change their minds in the face of contrary evidence.

        This issue, with relatively few exceptions, along with wilderness preservation and holding up the ESA and EPA is a left right issue, even though Senators Tester and Baucus are blue-dog democrats and the ones who attached the rider delisting the wolf–they were appealing to the sportsmen, rancher (redneck, right) vote.

  5. Excellent post..It tells the truth and essentially what needs to be known…It’s all abiut the goddamn “big game” which I dunno why they call it a game if it’s so sadistic…They want to kill and they like it..So they want wolves out so they don’t comoete with them for their “trophies”………I just ran out of words and tears….I fear that they won’t stop until every single wolf is gone…I’m tired of petitions and phone calls…none of these are having even a slight effect….I get so infuriated for this thet I think I’m going to become sick….It’s just watching this horror happen in front of your eyes and you just can’t do anything about it, and anti wolfers know it, that’s the worst of all….that’s why they continue this insanity, they fear no punishment, they are allowed to do this as they please……sorry…I can’t think of this for a minute longer….I’m just so sad I can’t type…..

  6. It is not having any effect on the republican brain which most ranchers and sportsmen have. They are impervious to fact, logic or science and just dig in and keep repeating their rants and lies and myths. If we are to have effect it must be through finding legislators who have a care about wolves, predators, wilderness and general wildlife. This may have not always been such a right-left issue but is now. Redneck is such a pejorative term but fits the states of WY-MT-ID-WI absolutely and the main opposition to wolves: ranchers and “sportsmen”. Such as these will only understand litigation, re-listing the wolf, counter-political action, and general public opinion.

  7. As a Alaskan, I do believe that there is no way that there is some super wolf living in the US. If these monsters that the animal-killing groups constantly banter about really do exist, why is it that me nor anyone else at the AFG have ever seen them? because they are not real, but just fabricated versions of a perfectly normal creature.

  8. Geezzz!!!! They must believe that the Dire Wolf is back,along with the Wooly Mammoth.

  9. the truth that the wolf is the most wonderful being killed because they are the key ecosystem

  10. talk about a useless species… eating, swilling cheap liquor and creating little rednecks… and most could not pass a literacy test, quite literally… and for those semantically challenged, redneck does not fefer to country… there are many, far too many, rednecks in new york…

  11. These are the real true americans who just want to force their views and lifestyle on all ,these people will use any and all tactics availiable and to fight fire with fire ,never give up and go to extremes to win turn SSS back on them

    • They demonize the wolf so they can scapegoat them for their inadequacies.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

  12. The “Non-Native, Invasive Canadian Gray Wolf” myth has got to be the most annoying anti-wolf myth. However, there is some truth to it. Let me explain:

    The native gray wolf was either Canis lupus irremotus or Canis lupus nubilus, depending on which biologist you speak with (it should be mentioned that the former is increasingly being considered as part of the latter).Regardless of which one it is considered to be, it is not the wolf that was (re)introduced. The gray wolf subspecies that was involved in the Yellowstone and Idaho Reintroduction is Canis lupus occidentalis (and Canis lupus columbianus, but it should be noted that this subspecies is increasingly considered part of C. l. occidentalis). So, technically speaking, the wolf now roaming the Northern Rocky Mountains is not the native wolf.

    Now, with that said, it must be mentioned that they are both the same species, and, although different enough genetically to be classified as seperate subspecies, neither of them is genetically distinct like the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is. Plus, both Canis lupus nubilus (irremotus) and Canis lupus occidentalis are very similar to each other.

    Both subspecies look the same. They both have features that are typical of the American wolf: large size, long, blunt muzzle, huge feet, long legs, small ears, heavily built, adapted for running, and thick fur, just to name a few characteristics. Both subspecies come in various colors: grays, gray-browns, whites, and blacks (though I think black is much more common in occidentalis than it is in nubilus, at least nowadays). Both are among the larger wolf subspecies, and both are around the same size, with occidentalis being, on average, a little larger than nubilus. But even then, both subspecies vary in size, depending on where they live (individuals that live further north are smaller than those that live closer to the equater). So the largest individuals of nubilus are probably larger than the smallest individuals of occidentalis. I don’t know if this is true (I’d have to do more research on it), but I’ve heard that the reintroduced wolves have decreased in size; that is, the wolves alive today are smaller than the ones that were released back in 1995 and 1996. If it is true, then it proves that the reintroduced wolves are adapting to their new ecosystem.

    Both also have the same biology and ecological niche. Both subspecies are specialist predators on large, hooved ungulates (such as deer and elk) but will also eat other prey (such as beaver) when the need arises. Both are social and hunt in packs, which vary in size depending on the conditions they live in. Both live in colder regions (though nubilus has also lived in the hotter plains) and, although they prefer wilderness, can adapt to human enroachment (but from what I know they don’t scavenged in cities like Canis lupus italicus sometimes does). And both compete against and will kill coyotes (unlike Canis lycaon and Canis rufus, which will breed with Canis latrans). Those are just some examples on how they are similar in their ecology.

    Simply put, the only differences I can think of between the two subspecies is their genetics (obviously; that’s why they are considered seperate subspecies), their minor difference in size, and their location of origination: Canis lupus occidentalis is from the north, while Canis lupus nubilus is from the south (but they spread their range northwards and became the most widely distributed wolf in North America [before humans extermined them from most of their range in the Lower 48 states]).

    Another important note that should be mentioned is that, although the southern-most part of Canis lupus occidentalis’ range is usually considered to be mid or southern Alberta, some scientists say that it is northern Montana and northern Idaho. If this is the case, then both Canis lupus occidentalis and Canis lupus nubilus (irremotus) were native to the region, and the reintroduction simply extended the range of occidentalis further south than it normally would be. And regardless of how south C. l. occidentalis’ range was, the ranges of the two subspecies overlap, and as such they most likely interbreed with each other. Some of the native wolves could very well have been hybrids between the two subspecies (particularily in the northern parts of the two states), even if the hybridization zone was in mid/southern Canada, as wolves can travel huge distances.

    And lastly, Canis lupus occidentalis wolves were already reintroducing themselves to Montana (and perhaps Idaho) even before the reintroduction plan became official. Although it would of taken much longer, these wolves would of eventually made their way to Yellowstone and central Idaho. The reintroduction just sped this natural recolonization up.

    So, although there is some truth to it, the “Invasive Canadian Wolf” myth is just as invalid as the other anti-wolf myths, and it is absolutely no justification for the extermination of the gray wolves that now call the Northern Rocky Mountain states their home.

    • CarlaVelosoWolf…..The Canadian wolf myth, is exactly what it states, a myth. Both Canis Lupus Occidentalis – The Mackenzie Valley wolf and Canis Lupus Irremotus -The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf, both roamed the Northern Rockies before the Western extermination. Wolves don’t understand boundaries, they cross freely across them and have been doing so for tens of thousands of years. Basically a wolf is a wolf, with slight variations in size and coat color. Canis lupus Irremotus was wiped out during the Western extermination although some scientists believe it was bred out of existence by Canis lupus Occidentalis and it’s even been reported that Canis lupis Irremotus may still exist in Northwest Montana.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      • I think the only way we will ever know if Canis lupus occidentalis was truly a native of the Northern Rockies or not is through genetic testing that compares the DNA of the reintroduced wolves, the native wolves (from all portions of Canis lupus irremotus’ range), and the wolves that were recolonizing the Northern Rockies before the reintroduction. I don’t know if this testing has been done yet but it needs to be done soon so that, regardless of the results, this stupid myth can be put to rest for good!

        I never said that wolves recognize the US-Canadian boundary and I am very well aware that they freely cross it without even knowing what it is. The question is how far south was the natural range of Canis lupus occidentalis? It used to be considered central Alberta but now some scientists (such as Nowak) consider it to of been in northern Montana. It is very important that this question is answered as it will answer the question of whether Canis lupus occidentalis is native to the Northern Rockies of not. The debate over what classification system (24 or 5 subspecies?) is accurate makes this more complex as the former (24 subspecies) does not consider Canis lupus occidentalis to be a native while the latter (5 subspecies) does.

        Canis lupus irremotus…the most complex subspecies to deal with in terms of classification and status! Canis lupus irremotus was considered to be a native of the Northern Rockies and the southern half of Alberta. It’s range met up with those of Canis lupus occidentalis, Canis lupus nubilus, Canis lupus youngi, Canis lupus fuscus, and Canis lupus columbianus. Under the 5 subspecies classification Canis lupus irremotus is officially considered to be part of Canis lupus nubilus (as is youngi and fuscus). However Nowak’s reclassification indicates that the Northern Rockies was inhabited by both Canis lupus nubilus and Canis lupus occidentalis, so that could imply that Canis lupus irremotus consisted of both subspecies and their hybrid offspring. Regardless of if it’s a distinct subspecies or not Canis lupus irremotus most likely became extinct in the 1930’s, due to Western Extermination as you stated. As wolves were migrating south through Canada starting in the 1950’s the wolves that recolonized northern Montana are probably Canis lupus occidentalis and not Canis lupus irremotus. If Canis lupus irremotus managed to survive then it would of been in the Yellowstone region – in fact, a few wolf-like canids were documented in the region prior to the reintroduction and (although highly unlikely) they might of been Canis lupus irremotus. Photos of one can be found here: http://www.nps.gov/features/yell/slidefile/mammals/wolf/Page.htm
        I don’t really know how to respond to the whole hypothesis of Canis lupus occidentalis breeding out Canis lupus irremotus to extinction has I have not seen any documentation of such event occurring. I only see this claim being made by the anti-wolf folks to demonize Canis lupus occidentalis. But if Canis lupus irremotus did continue to exist then this probably did occur and could be considered the tragic side of the otherwise highly successful Wolf Reintroduction to Yellowstone. But at least some of their genes might survive in the reintroduced wolf population and that is a lot better than having it all wiped out forever.

        And speaking of the anti-wolf, I really doubt that they care about Canis lupus irremotus. I’m sure that some people (such as Cat Urbigkit) truly care about the survival of the native wolf but I’m just as sure that many do not and are only using it as an excuse to kill the reintroduced wolves. Cause, if you think about it, many of the anti-wolf claims imply a hatred of all wolves. For example, they may argue about Canis lupus occidentalis driving Canis lupus irremotus to extinction one day, but then the next day they will claim that their forefathers wiped out the wolf for a reason. Well, guess what? That wolf their forefathers wiped out…was the NATIVE WOLF!

        “Basically a wolf is a wolf, with slight variations in size and coat color.” If that’s the case, then what’s the purpose of protecting the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) as a distinct subspecies/population? Not trying to sound anti-wolf here but either subspecies count or they don’t; you can’t just pick and choose when it matters and when it doesn’t. Wolf subspecies evolved cause, even if their populations are interconnected now, they were separated long enough thousands of years ago to obtain certain characteristics and genes unique to that particular subspecies. I feel that, as wolf advocates, we need to protect wolf species along with wolf subspecies. We certainly don’t want the anti-wolf folks to pick up this flaw in our pro-wolf arguments and use it against us now, do we? I don’t know about everyone else but I certainly don’t want this to occur! In fact, it already does!

        Sorry for writing so much about this topic but it is one that highly fascinates me – and annoys me when being used to demonize the reintroduced wolves. Like I said before this whole subspecies issue is no reason to kill the reintroduced wolves.

  13. […] around the sub species of wolf reintroduced in 95/96.  The story goes that Occidentalis is the big, bad Canadian wolf who replaced the sweet, loving Irremotus. That of course is BS. Yes, Occidentalis was the sub […]


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