Increasing or Maintaining the Grey Wolf Population in Montana

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In 1979, Diane Boyd was a 24 years old who left Minnesota to enroll at Montana State University, to follow her career as a wildlife researcher. The Gray Wolf species was nearly extinct from the 1930s; although the Gray Wolf was an endangered species, it was not until the 1960-70s, that people had decided it was a problem. Bob Ream was a College Professor at the University of Montana who had first started the Wolf Ecology Project in 1973; this allowed the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf to be listed in the “Endangered Species Act” in the same year. 

This act also allowed researcher, Joe Smith, to tag and track “Kishinena”, a female Wolf, on April 4,1979 at Glacier National Park. Boyd continued to study Kishinena for 20 years with little to no power or running water; giving her a better understanding of the Wolves environment and behaviors. Boyd’s studies piqued the interest of many people and researchers, even landing her a Sports Illustrated article in 1993; this article was titled, “The Woman Who Runs with the Wolves”. As the years went on and the wolf population slowly increased, the Montana Wolf was delisted from the Endangered Species Act in 2011, with the number increasing to more than 650 wolves.

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This relates to my question in the sense that the focal point of this particular article was the journey that a specific researcher underwent to increase the wolf population; it also spanned over a time period from the 1970s-2010s, showing the growth of the species as it went on. In Montana, a large project helped the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf get onto the Endangered Species List, which gave the species federal protection and allowed the Wolf to be managed by the State. 

In the mid to late 1800s, Gray Wolves caused many problems in Montana, including killing sheep, deer, and other resources that ranchers and farmers depend on. In 1884, Montana passed a law that encouraged people to kill the wolves and exchange their hide for money.5,450 wolf hides had been bought by the state in the first year alone. By the 1930s, they Gray Wolves had become extinct in Montana. The “Northern Rocky Mountain Recovery Team” started their efforts at relieving the Gray Wolves in 1980. 

This plan had made 3 areas for recovery: Yellowstone, Northwestern Montana, and Central Idaho, all including small areas in Montana. Wolves began to migrate from Canada to Glacier National Park in the year 1979; and because the wolves were protected by the state, the species grew to 48 in 1994 at Glacier. 14 wolves were brought to Yellowstone in 1995 and were held for 10 weeks, later producing nine new pups. By 2004, there were 15 breeding pairs and 166 wolves located in Montana.

The relevance of this website included how and when the researchers slowly brought back the Gray Wolf population and why it needed to be brought back. This also described the mistake Montana had made in the 1930s, that wiped out the Gray Wolf as well as the time, and struggle it took to bring them back. By bringing wolves from Canada to Montana, the Gray Wolf population has increased and continued to increase until the wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species Act; but still maintain their numbers as a self- sustaining/breeding species.

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