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Wolves of the North Fork Valley

Wolves of the North Fork Valley

Dave Shea, M.S.

This course will focus on the recovery and current status of wolves in Glacier National Park and the Northern Rocky Mountains.  Since human behavior plays such an integral role in wolf recovery efforts, current wolf politics and western attitudes towards the wolf will be discussed and reviewed.  We will spend time looking at and taking short hikes into wolf country on the west side of the Park.  By the end of the course you will have a basic knowledge of wolf life history and characteristics, wolf ecology, an introduction to wolf research techniques, and an understanding of the complex politics surrounding wolf recovery in the area.  Because of their secretive nature, it is unlikely that we will actually see or hear wolves on our field trip, although we should find evidence of their activities.

Meeting Place:  Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall (see campus map).

Itinerary:  After a brief introduction to each other and to the class, we will discuss basic wolf life-history data.  We will look at slide programs and biological specimens (skulls, pelts, tracks), and discuss wolf ecology, history, and politics. We will head out (via GI vehicle) into good wolf habitat along the nearby Inside North Fork Road in Glacier NP, looking for clues of recent wolf activity, while further discussing wolf reintroduction and management programs. We will spend the entire day in the North Fork area of Glacier National Park where we’ll learn about the history and current status of the wolf packs that have resided here.  We will also look at the 1988 Red Bench fire area and discuss its effects on wolf and prey habitat.  Lunch will be in the field.  We will observe other wildlife and plant species along the way, and we may find wolf tracks.  We will return to Field Camp around 5 PM. This course will not be cancelled due to weather.

Food:  Students are responsible for their own meals.  Please bring a sack lunch and ample snacks.

Required Equipment (all seasons): Warm Layers

Physical Requirements: Moderate hikes; on-trail or off-trail hikes up to 3 miles and/or 1,000 feet elevation gain. 

Transportation: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle.

Recommended Reading:

We will provide handouts and pamphlets during the course and display several pertinent books for further reference.  The following books will provide good background reading:

Of Wolves and MenLopez, B.H., Charles Scribner and Sons, NY, 1978

The Wolves of Isle Royale, Mech, L. D. Fauna of the National Parks of the U. S., Fauna Series 7.  U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1966.

The Wolf:  The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species, Mech, L. D., Natural History Press, NY, 1970.

Wolf Recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountains, Tilt, W., R. Norris and A. S. Eno, National Audubon Society and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 1987.  (You may purchase this booklet by sending $4 to:  National Wildlife Federation, 420 N. Higgins, Missoula, MT 59802.)

The Wolves of North America, Young, S. P. and E. A. Goldman. Dover Publishers, Inc. NY., 2 volumes, 1944.