~I think this is the most important wolf story in quite a while~
– – – – –
Perhaps the greatest success story in terms of numbers is the recovery of the wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Recovery began, however, before genetic analysis had advanced. Far more is known today, and the recovered wolf in the Great Lakes area is a mixture of the orginal wolves of the Great Lakes area, the Eastern Timber wolf (which seems to be a separate species very closely related to the red wolf) and coyotes.
Nevertheless, I think the restoration is a successful and important program because these large canids are on the ground fulfilling the same ecological function as the wolves of 200 years ago.
Genetic purity is important, nonetheless, and the only restored wolf population that clearly is all wolf are the wolves of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming which came down from Western Canada beginning in the 1980s on their own accord and were also captured and reintroduced to Yellowstone Park and central Idaho in 1995-6.
The story below does not mention this, but what it means is that the most vital wolf population from the standpoint of conserving and restoring endangered speices is the wolves in these three states — the very states which are going to be given a nearlly free hand to kill them once they are delisted as long as each state maintains a token population of about 10-15 packs (how these will be counted is a matter of controversy).
Off Endangered List, but What Animal Is It Now? By Mark Derr. New York Times.