Remembering Limpy’: The Life and Death of Wolf 253

Limpy

Limpy – Wolf 253

On March 28, 2008, almost seven years ago, a cherished Druid Peak pack wolf named Limpy,  was shot dead outside Daniel,Wyoming.  It happened on the day wolves, in the Northern Rockies, lost their ESA protections for the first time, by the then Bush Administration. 

“He died for nothing”  said Lake City resident Marlene Foard.  A senseless death for a beloved wolf.

RIP Limpy – we remember and miss you!

Here is Limpy’s story told  by the Trib.com and Earth Justice.

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The life and death of wolf 253

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2008 12:00 am  Trib.com

FRANZ CAMENZIND

A wolf died the other day in Wyoming. Along with three others, it was shot and killed on the first day that wolves in most of the state lost the protection of the Endangered Species Act. These were legal kills made by people simply because they could. Nothing more was required of them but to report the kills to state officials – no license, no fees, no restrictions.

For sportsmen, one of the proudly held rules is: “Know Your Target.” What did these hunters know about their targets?

One of the four dead wolves was a female that may have been pregnant. Two of the males were unknown and will be remembered simply as body count numbers in the West’s war on wolves. But one wolf has a history known to many throughout the region. To some he was “Limpy,” to others he was “The Wanderer.” Officially, he was 253M, the 253rd wolf to be radio-collared in the Greater Yellowstone area since wolves were reintroduced in the mid-90s.

253M was born in April 2000 into the Druid Peak Pack, whose territory encompasses Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley. His father was likely 21M, a leader of renown and a story unto himself. 21M was one of the first generation of wolves born in Yellowstone in more than 60 years.

253M was black, as are nearly half of Yellowstone’s wolves. Before he was two, he was injured defending his territory from intruders from a nearby pack. Although the Druids held their territory, 253M’s left hind leg was injured, causing a life-long limp distinguishing him from other wolves.

In the fall of 2002, he left his home territory, typical behavior for wolves of that age. Later that fall, on Nov. 30, 253M was accidentally caught in a trap set for coyotes about 20 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, making him the first confirmed wolf in Utah in more than 70 years. Tracks around the site suggested that he was traveling with another wolf – perhaps they were a pair exploring for a place to begin a new life.

253M was taken back to Wyoming and released three days later by a federal biologist south of Yellowstone Park. He made his way back to the Druid Pack before Christmas, surprising the “experts,” who thought he would immediately head back south.

This second time around, he remained with the Druids for nearly two years and rose to the level of second-ranking male – subordinate only to the now-famous, but aging, 21M. In the summer of 2004, 21M died, and most observers thought that 253M would take over as leader of the Druids. But again, he managed to fool the experts and waged only a minor battle with “New Black,” as the victor and new Druid leader came to be known.

Immediately after New Black assumed his alpha status, 253M broke from the pack and began wandering about Yellowstone, mostly undetected, only to unexpectedly appear on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole – 90 miles south of his birthplace – alone, but looking healthy.

It was in early 2005 that 253M may have fathered his only offspring. He was observed with another male and female, and 5 pups, forming the new Flat Creek Pack. But within a year, 253M again headed south, and the Flat Creek Pack dissolved. The cause of the sudden disintegration of this new pack will never be known. Was 253M simply living up to one of his names, The Wanderer?

Meanwhile, the Daniel Pack, which roamed across a mix of ranching and wild lands 60 miles southeast of Jackson, was implicated in cattle depredations and thus under constant surveillance and control. Sometime in the next year or so, 253M found his way into this persecuted pack.

During his eight years of travel across thousands of miles and at least two states, 253M was never accused of any destruction of human property. He was a “good wolf” – one who adapted to his human-dominated world. The kind of wolf we should be able to live with.

But on the morning of March 28, his luck ran out. Not because of anything he did, but because of what a minority of people in Wyoming wanted – to take all protection off wolves in 88 percent of the state, where anyone can now kill any wolf by any means at any time. 253M and three others were killed for nothing more than being wolves in Wyoming’s politically designated predator zone.

253M and other wolves are now dead in Wyoming because some don’t want wolves in the Equality State.

Now we “Know The Target.” What have we learned?

Franz Camenzind is executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.

http://trib.com/editorial/forum/article_124999b7-cf79-5ce6-bb05-48213d55554b.html

 

Uploaded April 2009 DOW

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Limpy: The Story of Wolf 253

Wolf 253 was one of the first casualties as the federal government stripped Endangered Species protections for gray wolves in the northern Rockies. But this particular wolf was unique.

He was known by the nicknames of “Limpy” or “Hoppy,” depending on who you talk to; the name comes from an old injury that left him crippled for life. His official designation was Wolf 253, part of the wolf population brought back from the verge of extinction in the northern Rockies, and one of 1,500 gray wolves that lost federal protections in March when the federal government “delisted” wolves from the Endangered Species Act.

And on March 28, 2008, he was shot dead.

Limpy wasn’t just any old wolf. His distinctive gait, walking on three legs, made him one of the more easily recognized wolves in Yellowstone. Among his pack, too, he was unique: he was taller than Wolf 21, his father and the alpha male of the Druid pack that roamed the open fields in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley.

Wolf-watchers in the northern Rockies say Limpy grew up charging after elk at the same speed as the rest of his pack, despite the injury that hobbled him as a pup. He played an important role in the Druid pack, tending to pups and defending the pack’s main den from bears.

As a young male, Limpy left the safety and security of the Druid pack and struck out on his own. He trotted south out of Yellowstone Park, and traveled across southern Wyoming until he crossed the Utah border. A trapper chasing coyotes in the mountains 20 miles from Salt Lake City caught Limpy in one of his traps. It was November, 2002, and the first confirmed wolf sighting in Utah in 70 years.

Once, hundreds of thousands of wolves roamed the great expanse of the northern Rockies. Decimated by decades of unregulated slaughter and persecution, gray wolves were pushed to the brink of extinction. In 1973, gray wolves became one of the first animals to appear on the Endangered Species list. With the help of legal protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, wolves in the northern Rockies had begun making a comeback when Hoppy arrived.

The wolf trapper called the US Fish and Wildlife, who sent a man down from Wyoming to fetch Limpy. The injured wolf was loaded in the back of a truck and driven to the far northern stretches of Grand Teton National Park, where he was released back into the wild two days later.

“He was a hell of a wolf,” recalls one veteran wolf-watcher. “After he was released with a hurt foot from the coyote trap, he crossed the territories of probably four hostile wolf packs in order to rejoin his old pack in Yellowstone Park.”

No one witnessed Limpy’s reunion with the Druid pack; it happened under cover of darkness. But the next morning, when one avid wolf-watcher and local photographer spotted Limpy back with his former pack, he was stunned.

“He was in bad shape,” recalled the photographer. “Must’ve been down to two and a half legs.”

Survival is a strong instinct, and so is the natural inclination of wolves to live in close-knit families and packs. Limpy was welcomed back to the Druid pack, and resumed the life he’d known years before.

Eventually, Limpy left the safety of Yellowstone and headed south again. He spent a year near an elk refuge near Jackson, then moved on toward Pinedale, feeding on elk, an occasional deer, and probably a smattering of jackrabbits and mice.

Limpy must have known that elk could be found around man-made feeding grounds, where elk are concentrated and disease is easily transmitted. Limpy was one of many wolves who preyed on elk grazing the land, helping keep the populations in check and thinning the herds of the sick and weak.

Limpy had, however, crossed into Sublette County, where local grocery stores sell bumper stickers that read “Wolves — Government-sponsored terrorists!” Some ranchers and farmers don’t hold much love for wolves, which they see only as predator… despite the fact that many animals are, by their very nature, predators. It’s a brutal fact of nature. It’s how they survive.

In the end, Limpy’s venture outside the safety of Yellowstone Park’s official boundaries proved fatal. After eight years spent traveling over thousands of miles, he was shot — along with another male and a female wolf — near the elk feeding ground a few miles outside Daniel, Wyoming on March 28, 2008. He became one of the first casualties in a resurrected war against wolves that began the day the federal government stripped Endangered Species protections from gray wolves across the northern Rockies.

Limpy’s death was reported to the state, as required under new Wyoming wolf rules, and word of his killing quickly spread across the Internet. The Salt Lake City Tribune picked up the story, and talked with several people who were fans of the old wolf with the bum leg.

“He died for nothing,” lamented Salt Lake City resident Marlene Foard. “If there was a reason to kill him, I could live with that. But there wasn’t.”

Another reader wrote in an e-mail, “I think they have no idea what they have done by killing this particular wolf.”

And Franz Camenzind, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, said people knew wolves had been hanging around the feeding ground, but none had been seen attacking cattle herds or destroying human property. As Camenzind told the Salt Lake City Tribune, Limpy was “a good wolf. He covered thousands of miles and didn’t cause any trouble.”

Come fall, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana expect to approve formal, legalized wolf hunts. Right now, except for a small area just outside Yellowstone in Wyoming, all you need is just a gun and a steady aim to legally shoot a wolf.

But there’s still hope for the rest of the wolves in the northern Rockies. In the past, Earthjustice has opposed several previous versions of Wyoming’s plans to declare wolves enemies of the state, and this time around we’re heading back to court to press for reinstating ESA protection for gray wolves in the region.

Our goal is to get the federal government to come up with a more realistic wolf recovery plan… something that recognizes recent science findings about a species that fought for 30 years to recover from nearly a century of devastating slaughter. The current plan could allow Idaho, Wyoming and Montana to hunt down wolves far and wide, and reduce a population of 1,500 wolves across three states to a mere 300 survivors.

Sadly, Limpy won’t be among their numbers.

http://www.earthjustice.org/library/features/hoppy-the-story-of-wolf-253.html

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Photo: Courtesy Steve Justad

Posted in:  wolf 253,  Endangered Species Act,  Wolf wars

Tags: Endangered Species Act, wolf intolerance, Limpy, Wolf 253, Druid Peak Pack, RIP Limpy

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by OnyxWolf and Debra Arnold, Nabeki. Nabeki said: Limpy’s Story:The Life and Death of Wolf 253 https://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/limpys-story-the-life-and-death-of-wolf-253/ […]

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  2. Tears are rolling down over my face, reading Limpy´s story.

    Some of the information reminds me so much of what is happening in our part of the world – we had 25 randomly picked wolves killed the very first day the hunting ban was lifter.

    This madness and senceless brutality must stop. More people need to become aware of what is going on with the nature, what our governments decide, just based on lobby from minory, with money.

    Thank you for being here for the wolves – your blog is excellent!

    Like

    • Hi Katerina,
      I dedicated my blog to Limpy. I cry too everytime I read his story. Such a long journey for him, when he finally found his home and then the first day they lifted ESA protections, back in 2008, he was shot. So senseless, so brutal. He died for nothing, so someone could get a cheap thrill out of killing a beautiful wolf.

      Between you and me and all the wolf advocates in this world maybe we can make a difference. We have to shout it from the rooftops.. The world does not belong to these people. The animals and wolves do not belong only to them, Swedish wolves and American wolves belong to the people, not a group of pro hunting, pro ranching bureaucrats.

      Keep up the good fight Katerina and never, ever give up. Thanks for the props on the blog, you’re doing a great job as well!!

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

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  3. MY DARLING,MY HEART LIMPY!I THINK LOT OF TIME OF YOU… AND I CRY.I HAVE LOT OF PICTURES OF YOU…YOU WAS SO BEAUTIFUL.YOU AND LOT OF WOLVES ARE IN THE WOLVES-HEAVEN!YOU WAS KILLED BY THE BIG BAD HUMANS-KILLERS! MY HEART,SWEET LIMPY,PLEASE PROTECT ALL WOLVES ON THE WORLD FRO WOLVES-HAEVEN! THEY ARE NEEDING YOU! I LOVE YOU SWEET LIMPY,YOU ARE IN MY HEART FOREVER!

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    • Agnes….Limpy’s death was so pointless. He was shot and killed on the first day that wolves were delisted by the Bush Adminstration back in 2008. He died for nothing. He was a Druid Peak Pack wolf who was the nanny to the Druid pups before he struck out on his own. He had finally found his place in the world when he was gunned down. I think of him often myself. It still brings tears to my eyes.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

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  4. DEAR NABEKI!I READ LIMPY’S STORY ON THIS SITE.THAT’S WHY MY HEART BROKEN.I HAVE DVD “VALLEY OF WOLVES” IN YELLOWSTONE. I CAN’T SEE ANYMORE,I CAN’T!I NEVER LIKED bush and bush’s administration! EVERYDAY I COME ON YOUR SITE FOR PETITIONS, FOR TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WOLVES. YOU KNOW,IN EUROPA IS FORBIDDEN TO SELL WOLF FUR…I CHECK ON EBAY EVERYDAY SELLERS FOR TO CANCEL WOLF’S ANNOUNCE. BUT IN USA,CANADA,ALASKA I CAN’T TO DO NOTHING.ON EBAY HAVE LOT OF ANNOUNCE FOR SELL COYOTE FURS.I CONTACT THE SELLERS AND I WRITE: KILLER!DO YOU IMMAGINE I FOUND TRAP FOR WOLF,COYOTE,BEAR,FOX ON EBAY??? I WAS VERY ANGRY,I CONTACTED THIS SELLER!ON YOUTUBE WHEN I FOUND WOLF HUNTING VIDEO,I LEAVE COMMENT…THAT’S ALL WHAT I CAN TO DO…IT’S NOT ENOUGH,NOT ENOUGH! I ADORE WOLVES,AND I FEEL SO BAD WHEN I READ HOW HUNTER KILL THIS SO MAGIC ANIMAL!IT’S SAMEFUL HOW THE HUMAN TREAT WILD ANIMALS SO BADLY! GOD BLESS ALL WOLVES ON THIS STUPID WORLD!

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    • Hi Agnes,
      It’s commendable you are being pro-active about trapping, the selling of pelts and wolf hunting. There is so much injustice concerning predators, especially wolves, you could spend 24 hours a day trying to defend against it. I wish it wasn’t so. But if we all do our part we can change things. There is power in numbers.

      Right now the hunting and ranching lobbies have the power over wolves and other predators. They influence state game policies because everytime they buy a hunting license some of that money goes to the state game agency budget. Predators are being killed to boost the number of ungulates so hunters have more game to kill. Alaska has been aerial gunning wolves for years to increase moose and caribou numbers. Friends of Animals used this slogan to encourage people to boycott Alaska:

      “If you shoot wolves to save moose, and then you shoot the moose, you’re either out of your mind or in Alaska.”

      I’m sure the wolves thank you Agnes for caring so much about them and for being so passionate. We just have to continue to speak out for them and we will make a difference!!

      N.

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  5. I look back at the documentaries in my collection and it leaves a sick feeling in my gut knowing that the wolves featured are gone.
    Its maddening. I can not begin to demonstrate the depths of it. To hear some [censored] tell how [censored] wonderful it was to kill a wolf and to have its pack mates crying around him as a magical experience just…then he complains that he’s catching flack for it…! Bunch of morons!

    Sorry I had to get it off of my chest.

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    • John, I watched In The Valley of the Wolves a few weeks ago and it was heartbreaking to think that the Druids are gone. I keep hoping they’ll appear again with new pups. I remember at one time they were down to three animals but never one wolf with six missing. Why would the park be so cavalier about this? These wolves were icons of the park and the West?

      And yes we have to suffer these cretins gloating over their wolf kills like grinning hyena’s. The wolves have had to endure so much this year. After fifteen year of building up their numbers some bureaucrat in Washington decides, oh there’s enough wolves, let’s start slaughtering them. Makes zero sense.

      N.

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  6. DEAR NABEKI!I BEGAN TO BE INTERESTED FOR WOLF…ONLY ONE YEAR AGO…I NEVER,NEVER IMAGINED WOLVES’S LIFE IS HOW SO HARD,CRUEL.IN ALL MY LIFE I LIKED ALL ANIMALS. I WAS ALWAYS ANIMALS’S SIDE.IN FRANCE I’M IN ONE ANIMALS ASSOCIATION.I HAVE 5 DOGS.I KNOW ON THE WORLD THE HUMANITY TREAT ALL ANIMALS SO BADLY.EVERYWHERE! BUT I THINK,HUMAN HATE WOLF MORE LIKE OTHERS ANIMAL. THAT’S WHY I’M SO DESPERATE ABOUT WOLVES.THAT’S WHY I DECIDED TO DO WHAT I CAN TO HELP WOLVES.UNFORTUNATELY I LOST MY JOB. I HAVE LOT OF TIME.I’M SPENDING MY TIME TRYING TO DEFEND WOLVES.TODAY I MADE TO CANCEL TWO SWEDISH WOLF FUR ANNOUNCES FROM EBAY.I’M POLICE ON EBAY. MY ENGLISH IS BAD BUT I READ WELL! NABEKI,I RESPECT YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WORK TO DEFEND WOLVES…AND I LIKE VERY MUCH YOUR BLOG.PLEASE IF YOU CAN DON’T TAKE OUT OF THE BIG SUPER LIMPY’S PICTURES!!!HE IS SO BEAUTIFUL ON! I HAVE ON MY CELL PHONE!GOD BLESS ALL WOLVES ON THE WORLD!

    Like

    • Dear Agnes,
      Thank you for sharing you passion for wolves and your efforts to help them.

      Even though it may seem we are losing this war, because that’s what it is, a war on wolves, we lost a few battles but will win in the end. I truly believe that. I’m in this for the long haul. I predict things will turn around for wolves in the coming months. Even though things make look dark we have to keep speaking out, writing letters, emails, calling. Our problem is we don’t have any political power. The power rests with ranchers and hunters. That will change but it will take time. Many people are advocating for wolves. Our challenge is to unite and speak with one voice.

      Thank you for all you are doing. Don’t worry I won’t remove Limpy’s picture. My blog is dedicated to him!


      On a journey to the west end of the Lamar Valley, Limpy found a coyote to chase at sunset. And despite his crippled leg, Limpy could run very, very wel.


      Wolf 253 (right, with his injured rear leg) joins two Druid Pack members during mating season in the northern Rockies.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,
      Nabeki

      Like

  7. I’ve followed the Druid pack since before the first wolves were set free into yellow stone park. 😡 it makes me so angry that hunters out there go “know your target” and they know NOTHING but old wives tails and male cow poo about wolves and claim it to be fact.

    I am very upset even now by the death of Wolf 253 “Limpy” and what makes it worse is that his new mate may well have been carrying cubs and some hick hunter with a small man hood goes and shoots them for the sake of shooting them 😡 I hope that hunter falls on his own gun and blows off his “man hood” death is to good for someone like that.

    Like

    • Hi Blackfox,
      I’m still upset about Limpy too, he was such any amazing wolf that didn’t deserve to be shot dead for no reason other then blood lust.

      N.

      Like

  8. Limpy. An amazing Wolf who foolish the experts and inspire you dear Nabeki. A Wolf who make come tears in my eyes and all the other people who read this sad story. I will never forget the cruel the cold ways of humans or the person (or more) who did this thing. I will remember at my last breath this only “Growing with humans start love the animals”

    Like

    • Limpy was a special wolf and so undeserving of being shot to death. He had a handicap and was trying to make it on hin own. He was killed for nothing. A truly sad, sad story.

      N.

      Like

  9. Wolves are such beautiful creatures. I love the work you are doing here.

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  10. I was so sad after reading this. Wolves have done nothing wrong!!!

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  11. An extremely sad story but also a good one. I believe Limpy is honored that you took the time to spread the word of his death so we could stop the killing preventing such a crime from being committed to not only his family but also to other wolves. Wolves are such magnificent creatures who deserve to run wild and live free. As predators they keep hooved animal numbers down and provide food for other carnivores who find food scarce during the winter months. Why would humans shoot a animal who is so crucial to the environment i do not know perhaps they where ill educated or cruel. I thank you again for sharing his story…

    Like


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