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A True Story About a "Good Wolf" Named Limpy

Updated on March 1, 2017

Gray Wolf in Yellowstone National Park

This photo was taken by my friend C.W. last summer 2010
This photo was taken by my friend C.W. last summer 2010

A Wolf With Many Followers

Limpy was a "good wolf." That was what Yellowstone wolf watchers said about this three- legged wolf after he was shot to death on March 28, 2008. Born in 2000, Limpy was so named because of an injury to one of his hind legs sustained during a fight when he was just a pup. He never was able to use that leg. This and his beautiful almost solid black fur coat made him a standout among the wolves of the Druid Peak Pack. The Druid Pack lived in the Lamar Valley in the northeastern part of Yellowstone National Park. The Druids were once the most well known pack of the lower 48 (sadly this once robust pack no longer exists) and Limpy was the most watched among the Druids.

Limpy was an excellent hunter and caretaker for the pups of the Druids. Watchers also observed Limpy defending his den from bears. Despite his handicap, he was a very valuable member of his pack. Scientists, tourists, photographers and wildlife watchers all followed the progress of this one extraordinary wolf.

A Survivor

In 2002, Limpy struck out on his own, as most young male wolves will. He traveled south outside of Yellowstone National Park, crossed through Wyoming and all the way to Utah. Limpy became the first wolf to live in Utah in over 70 years.

Unfortunately, he was caught in a trap intended for coyotes and one of his front legs was injured. U.S. Fish and Wildlife was called on to relocate the injured wolf to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Before he was released, he was fitted with a tracking collar. Now limping on two legs, the young wolf made his way back, hundreds of miles, to his pack in Lamar Valley. The Druids welcomed him home, and gradually Limpy's new injury healed. He lived the next several years as an integral part of the Druid Pack.

Shoot on Sight

Eventually, Limpy left the safety of Yellowstone again. Tracked by his collar as well as eye-witness reports, Limpy traveled vast distances into Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Montana. He traversed thousands of miles and often his path crossed Ranches and farmland but Limpy was renown for never preying upon cattle or any kind of livestock. He was known for being a "good wolf" that never caused any trouble.

Unfortunately, Limpy was in Wyoming when the Federal Endangered Species protection was lifted for all wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming in March of 2008. When the federal government turned the management of the wolves over to the state level, all three states began planning a fall wolf hunt. Additionally, Wyoming adopted a shoot-on-sight policy for wolves. In Daniel Wyoming, many people had been watching four wolves that were hanging around an elk feeding ground a few miles from town. The very first day that it was legalized, all four wolves were shot; Limpy was among them.

The Fate of Limpy's Kin

Since then, the U.S. District Court placed the wolves back on the Endangered Species List in July of 2008. Then they were back off the list in March of 2009. 258 wolves were killed in the fall hunts of 2009. In August of 2010, the wolves were returned to The Endangered Species List a third time. Now, March of 2011, the decision to de-list them is back in the U.S. District Court. Limpy's death was a sad tragedy but if there is a silver lining it may be that his fans and followers got a glimpse of what state management for wolves is like. Hence, many are still fighting to keep the Gray Wolf on the Endangered Species List.


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    • profile image

      Brianna Lynn Price Burton 4 years ago

      Really sad and touching :'(

    • Shaddie profile image

      Shaddie 5 years ago from Washington state

      It's sad how much wolves are persecuted...

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

      Me too Nettlemere!

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      I enjoyed reading about this unique wolf and am sorry he didn't have the chance to live his full lifespan.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Thanks Teylina...I'm bummed with the hunting season in full swing right now....

    • Teylina profile image

      Teylina 6 years ago

      Never too late for a very good read! As a wolf lover, though no activist, I've kept up w/this debate for decades. I'm not from that area, but these animals simply fascinate me in many ways, and I imagine there are more 'Limpy's' than we know of! Yes, there is a major problem w/all of our animal/ecological balance systems, but not sure man will ever be able to manage. It is VERY sad.

    • profile image

      Patrick 6 years ago

      Sad,very sad...

    • profile image

      Stan 6 years ago

      I live in Idaho and I feel like the wolf should have been left alone. They should not have reintrodused him here. They put him in Yellowstone Park and expected him to stay. The food was easy to get there, out of the park, food is harder to get, ranches with cows and sheep is almost like Yellwstone. When the Pack gets big, some one has to leave and start a new pack, and this happens year after year. How many wolves is enough? What happens when the Elk and deer run out? Wolves have 4 or more pups a year. deer and Elk have 1 or 2 moose have 1 or 2 and then there is the grizzly bear to help the wolf. Don't you guys take any of this into cosideration. Check what our elk heards were before the wolf and now.

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi Romano and thanks for reading...unfortunately the wolf hunts here in Montana are scheduled to start soon:(

    • Romano Arnesto profile image

      Romano Arnesto 6 years ago from Philippines

      What a moving story about Limpy. Wolves are wild, but it doesn't mean they're rude or dangerous to humans. Limpy was an exception.

      Thanks for sharing, Mrs. Menagerie. :D

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi Pinkydoo and Eiddwen,

      Sorry I have taken forever to rude of me! I really do appreciate your reading and leaving kind words!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Great hub, thank you for sharing.

      I push all the buttons on this one.

      Take care


    • pinkydoo profile image

      pinkydoo 6 years ago from New York

      Poor Limpy! That is so sad!

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi they should be handled is quite complex.

      Thank you for your comment.

      My dog is a Karelian Bear Dog...I wrote a hub about them:)

    • Mrs. Menagerie profile image

      Mrs. Menagerie 6 years ago from The Zoo

      Hi kashmir56...thanks for taking the time to read about Limpy.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      That's an interesting story.I have not really followed wolf controversies so I won't venture an opinion on how they should be handled.

      The dog in your profile looks a lot like our Siberian Husky mix.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mrs. Menagerie, a very interesting hub thanks for sharing it !