Accounts of famous North American Wolves, Canis lupus

P. S. Gipson, W. B. Ballard

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7 Scopus citations


We examined historical accounts of 59 famous North American Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) reported during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Fifty of the 59 wolves were purportedly responsible for great losses to livestock, but for 29 reports, evidence suggested that ≥2 wolves (e.g., packs) were responsible for the purported kills; in addition, seven wolves had traits that suggested they were hybrids with dogs, and one wolf was probably not from the area where the damage purportedly occurred. Reported livestock losses, especially to Longhorn cattle, from individual wolves appeared excessively high in relation to current literature. Most famous wolves were old and/or impaired from past injuries: 19 were reportedly ≥10 years old, 18 had mutilated feet from past trap injuries, and one had a partially severed trachea from being in a snare. Old age and physical impairments probably contributed to livestock depredations by some famous wolves. Several accounts appeared exaggerated, inaccurate, or fabricated. Historical accounts of famous wolves should be interpreted with great caution, especially when considering impacts of wolf reintroductions or when modeling predation rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-739
Number of pages16
JournalCanadian Field-Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998


  • Canis lupus
  • Damage
  • Gray Wolf
  • Hybrids
  • Livestock depredations
  • North America


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