Last April a large wolf-like “canid” was found dead along I-90 east of Sturgis, SD.
Examination of its stomach contents showed it had been subsisting on deer.
Was it a wolf, a wolf hybrid, a pet wolf that had been released? After much laboratory investigation and genetic analysis, it turns out it was a wolf that had left (dispersed) from the Yellowstone ecosystem.
This is a huge distance, but the story is not just a wow!! Equally long dispersals of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Yellowstone, and wolves in Canada have been documented in recent years.
There are those who say that the wolves reintroduced to Idaho and Yellowstone (from Canada) in 1995-6 were somehow different than the essentially extinct “native” wolves, but these long-range dispersals dispel this argument. For wolves to develop into a different species or sub-species, they have to be isolated so the populations cannot mate with one another. If wolves are dispersing 400 miles now, they certainly did so for thousands of years in the past.
That is why the story is important.