A True Story About a "Good Wolf" Named Limpy
Gray Wolf in Yellowstone National Park
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.
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.
Is The Gray Wolf Endangered?
- Reintroduction of the Gray Wolves: Pros and Cons
...as early as 1884, an official eradication of large predatory species was put into effect...
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.