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Is There More To Yellowstone Wolf Attack Than Park Officials Are Admitting?

Above – Yellowstone wolves have severely hamstrung this moose…and now await it to bleed out and go down.  Then, in normal wolf fashion, the pack will feed on the still alive moose, often eating out the meaty rear portions – and leaving the animal to suffer a lingering death.  To bring down a sizeable animal such as this can take several days, and the hungry pack will aggressively defend their food source.


It’s no secret among the residents of the Greater Yellowstone Area that the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been less than honest about the impact wolves have had on the park and the area in general, or how those involved with the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project have manipulated science to achieve a fast track to a successful wolf recovery.  Likewise, from the very start of the project, the likes of former project coordinator Ed Bangs and Yellowstone wolf biologist Doug Smith have thumbed their noses at any claims in regard to the health or safety threats wolves pose humans, especially when it comes to an outright attack on a human.

So, are wolves a threat to humans, will they attack a person?

One Yellowstone National Park tourist can probably answer that question better than anyone working at the park.  The man was hiking in the Hayden Valley, along the Yellowstone River, in early June (2012) when he encountered wolves, or a wolf, which he claimed became aggressive and threatening.  And this is where the story goes in two directions.

One story is that, to ward off the attack, the hiker sprayed the wolves with pepper spray bear repellant, but they did not back off.  The man then ran to the river and jumped in, while the pack of five wolves continued to pursue him, running along the bank, for nearly a mile.  The other story, being told by Yellowstone National Park officials, is that the hiker encountered a lone female wolf, which was guarding its den, and that there was not an attack, so there was no reason for the man to jump into the Yellowstone River.

Park spokesman Al Nash said, “There was no wolf attack, however, a visitor apparently had some sort of encounter with a wolf. The wolf did not attack him.   This gentleman encountered a wolf, just as many visitors encounter bears, elk or sheep.  I don’t know what his decision-making process was. He chose to get away from the animal. Why he chose to go into the Yellowstone River, I just don’t know.”

            When rumors of the “encounter” began to circulate a week after the incident took place, Scott Rockholm, the founder of Save Western Wildlife, called the Yellowstone offices and spoke with the head of the park’s wolf project, biologist Doug Smith.  Smith also stressed that the man was not attacked by the wolf.  Rather, he had gotten too close to the wolf’s den, and the wolf was simply doing what it took to get him away from the area.

According to Rockholm, Smith commented, “The female wolf escorted the man away from the den, and the man overreacted”.

A short story on the incident that ran in the Billings Gazette on June 12 shared – “The wolf allegedly gave a warning bark, which the man interpreted as a growl. He sprayed the wolf with pepper spray — a deterrent most often used in bear encounters. The hiker heard the wolf yipping as a result of the spray as he fled.  Park officials said the man jumped into the Yellowstone River, believing the wolf might pursue him. He apparently lost his backpack as he was washed downriver and was treated by park rangers for hypothermia.”

            Dr. Valerius Geist, a professor of wildlife ecology with the University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada says, “The position taken by the park is a classical one:  Blame the victim!    No wolf gets within pepper-spray distance without intent.  On the positive side, the wolf sprayed is unlikely to try getting close    again. This is good negative conditioning.”

During the month of June, the Yellowstone River typically sees its highest water mark as the mountain snowpack recedes quickly.  The runoff is swift, and the stretch of river where the hiker took the plunge is at just over 7,000 feet elevation, and the water runs cold.  Mid day water temperatures in early to mid June run around 47 or 48 degrees, accounting for the hiker’s case of hypothermia.

Will Graves, the author of the book “Wolves in Russia – Anxiety Through the Ages”, doesn’t buy YNP’s claim that the frightened hiker jumped into the river for no reason at all.  He points out,  “Anyone who jumps into the Yellowstone River in June, during high water, must be under a great deal of stress.”

Yellowstone National Park did not release the man’s name, but has stated that an investigation would continue to learn more.  Until then, they’re likely sticking with their story, and claim that there was not an attack.  Still, the other story, claiming that it was a pack of wolves, not a single female wolf, that pursued the hiker supposedly has a witness.  Looks like the best of either story could be yet to come.  –  Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH


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7 thoughts on “Is There More To Yellowstone Wolf Attack Than Park Officials Are Admitting?

  1. Rick Merz on said:

    The way I saw this unfold earlier this week was::
    1- Word ran through FB like wildfire that there had been an attack on a person.
    2- The next day, after many emails and chats on FB w/ YNP officials, the only thing that YNP officials wanted to know was who was the leak?? No confirmation or denial publicly. Just kept asking who the info was coming from.
    3- The following day YNP had a whole different takee on what was reported at first.
    4- By the 4th day YNP had a whole different story which made the victim the badd guy or just someone who freaked out over nothing.
    I doubt that we’ll ever find out wht really happend that day last week, but it sure looks to me like there is a lot of back peddling going on and looking at who is releasing these comments, I’m not a bit surprised. It’s up to you to make your own informed opinion about this untill (if and when) the victim speaks out. I myself will be interested if the victims bank account has grown since this episode started.

  2. Rick…I wondered about that myself.


  4. ed hackett on said:

    …if this wolf introduction, was such a damn good idea… why has it been shrouded in lies and deceipt, from it’s very inception???

    • Ed…if the “EXPERTS” who drafted the Northrn Rockies Wolf Recovery Project or the USFWS “PROFESSIONALS” who penned the 1994 Environmental Impact Statement for the project had been honest…and had presented the truth…that the illegaly transplanted Canadian wolves were lareger and more aggressive…that those wolves, in less than 20 years, would destroy the past 75 years of wldlife conservation in much of the Northern Rockies…that those wolves were primary carriers and spreaders of more than 30 deadly diseases and parasites…and that those wolves would eventually make such a negative impact on ranching that it would be impossible for livestock producers to operate profitably…Do You Really Think The American Public Would Have Said…Sure Go Ahead???

      What’s the damned shame of this wildlife disaster is that so many of those responsible are still not behind bars. Some are even livng the good life as Public Servants…such as Bob Ream, the project team leader who spearheaded the extremely false NRM Wolf Recover Plan – who is now the Chairman of the MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission….Then there’s Mike Phillips, of Bozeman, who served as the Yellowstone Project Leader, and who oversaw the dumping of those wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Area – and who is now a State Representative, and who is now running for the State Senate – and who’s day job is being Chariman of the Ted Turner Endangered Species Fund….Then we still have Doug Smith playing wolf expert/biologist inside Yellowstone National Park – He’s likely the Number One Cause of why the great elk herds of Yellowstone are now gone.

      What’s wrong with this picture?

      Toby Bridges

      • john bihon on said:

        Exactly ….people need to wake up now before it is to late …If they are going to let the wolf eat up all the big game that WE have managed to bring it where it was YESTERDAY then we best load up and take matters into our own hands ….I hate stupid people !!!!

      • News reached me today of a zoo keeper in Sweeden, a 30 year old woman, killed by a pack of wolves that the zoo “had been” allowing people to enter the enclosure and socialize with on a regualr basis. Now, that pack will be euthanized.

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