National Geographic : 2010 Mar
EDITOR'S NOTE PHOTO: ROBERT WESELMANN A lone male gray wolf patrols Wyoming's Blacktail Pond area of Yellowstone National Park. I saw the damage on a crisp autumn morning when I checked the pasture where I was raising a dozen ewes for my Future Farmers of America project. Several lambs were down. Six were dazed and wounded, their faces chewed. I tried to save them, but two died in my arms. The others died the next day. I was sad, angry, and wanted answers. An animal control officer investigated and concluded that they had been attacked by dogs. I received compensation, but to a 16-year-old, it seemed woefully inadequate. We have a complex relationship with canines. At worst it seems like an ugly divorce from an ancient, once fruitful relationship. All my life I've lived with dogs and loved them, but I guarantee that if I'd had the chance to shoot the dog that killed my sheep, I would have pulled the trigger without hesitation. I know the same is true for a shepherd who sees a wolf tear into his flock. How else to explain the extermination of wolves from the Rocky Mountains in the early 1900s? Now they've returned and reestablished themselves in our lives. The debate over the return of wolves is emotional. There is confusion, anger, and misinformation, making it even more important to examine facts and listen carefully to those involved. To my mind, no one does this better than Doug Chadwick. He lives in Montana wolf country. In fact, a radio-collared wolf often visits his front yard. In our cover story, Doug examines the impact wolves are having on the West---with respect for the wolves and for their human neighbors.