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ANOTHER VIEW OF WOLVES

by Gary Macfarlane, long-time member and friend of HUPC, now living in Idaho's Clearwater country

Dead elk, perhaps a dozen, dot the lower 20 miles of the Weitas Creek Trail in May, their bones crunched into fragments. Wolf tracks bury the Kelly Creek Trail in November. Fleeting and not-so-fleeting glimpses of these large canids are reported in the meadows and brushfields along the Selway late in the year. The fact is they never left this country though their presence was never
obvious to us until the late 90s, a few years after the so-called reintroduction.

We are told seeing is believing. The modern media think so; they focus on our eyes--the written word in a popular magazine, a flashy television ad, or the remarkable clarity of an Ansel Adams print. All the glitz is due to our evolutionary history on the African veldt which gave us relatively keen binocular eyesight, in living color.

Yet, in spite of all our use of and reliance on our eyes, no sign of wolves, not even the visual confirmation of a pack traipsing across a trail, is as profound as the howl. It strikes a deep root in that part of us that understands fellow creatures of vocal communication.

On the divide between the South Fork Clearwater and the Salmon-- where you can almost see forever--Bobbi and I heard the far off howl of the Gospel Hump pack. The wolves gave voice to their existence (and to that wild place), a parallel to our own human myth of the great Fenian hero, Oscar. We spent the rest of the day hiking with wide-eyed, smiling faces.

Reports of individual wolves, voices and sightings, have been persistent in the Uintas for over 20 years. I heard one near Bull Park about 1980. Whether those reports were of wanderers or abandoned wolf-dog hybrids (genetic emphasis on wolf), we'll probably never know.

What's important today is wolves are returning. to their homes where they belong.


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