(Editor’s note: Rick McIntyre will be known by many of you for his tireless efforts on behalf of wolves and as one of the most elegant spokespersons for wild nature through award winning books and lectures. Ernest Thompson Seton, who visited Yellowstone National Park in 1897, would have been heartbroken at the extermination of wolves there, but thrilled to know that Rick and others have devoted themselves to righting that injustice. See the video of Rick at the Explorers Club starting at time code 7:16; scroll down to find the video. His letter to Lobo follows.)
A letter to Lobo: January 31, 2023
During the time of your life humans were killing every wolf they could find in America. That continued long after your death. The saddest example of that campaign was how park rangers exterminated all the native wolves in Yellowstone National Park in the 1920s.
It took decades, but eventually many humans realized we had been wrong to kill all those wolves. In Yellowstone the modern rangers brought down seven packs from Canada for a wolf reintroduction program in 1995 and 1996. I had started to work as a park ranger in Yellowstone in the spring of 1994 so I knew the park prior to the reintroduction and throughout the decades after the wolves arrived.
The Canadian wolves came from areas where there was intensive wolf hunting and trapping, but once released in Yellowstone they were protected from harm. Unexpectedly, the packs became very visible to the millions of people that visit the park. That helped cause a huge turnaround in attitudes toward wolves in America.
The success of the reintroduction here helped get approval for another reintroduction of wolves in your former home in the state of New Mexico as well as in neighboring Arizona. A wolf reintroduction is planned for Colorado.
You played a big part in this turnaround of human attitudes toward wolves due to the widely read story that Ernest Thompson Seton wrote about you and a movie based on your life.
Here is what I want you to know: your life story made a difference in changing attitudes toward wolves throughout the world and led to restoration of wolf populations throughout the western United States.
You did not die in vain.
Yellowstone National Park