Monday, July 19, 2010

The Buffalo Wolves

Two years ago, John's fence company took on a fascinating fence job, and they were hired by the same customer this summer.  I went with him last week to unload some materials at the site, and I had not had a really good look at the project for a long time so asked if I could look around while he continued to work.  What I saw was so fun that I asked him if I could blog about it as long as I wasn't very specific about the customer or the project.  Normally the work his company does isn't as "sensitive," but when you're building 10 foot fences around enclosures of thousands of square feet, you know you're keeping in or keeping out something pretty special, and there are few things in this area that are more controversial than wolves.  Therefore, while the location of the job isn't necessarily a secret, we're pretty careful to be very discreet about it.  That said, everything about the organization that is responsible for the wolves (the E.H. McCleery Buffalo Wolf Foundation) is above board.  All of the pertinent entities are aware of the Foundation's work, and the wolves are in impressive enclosures.

The first time John's company built fence for the Foundation, they started from scratch because the wolves were to be moved from their previous home in the Gallatin Forest to their current home in Carbon County.   The preservation of these particular wolves was begun by Dr. E.H. McCleery about 100 years ago.  Originally an engineer, Dr. McCleery became a physician after traveling to the west and realizing that there was a need for medical doctors in this part of the country.  However, a horrific experience he had watching a "wolf bait" changed his life.  He returned to his native state of Pennsylvania and began paying trappers for live wolves they captured in the west so that he could save them.  As Dr. McCleery's health began to decline, the work he had begun was taken over by a man named Jack Lynch.  Jack moved the wolves to Washington where he continued to care for them, but he eventually left Washington (in part because the rainy weather was hard on the wolves) and moved them to Montana.  While in Washington he met, and eventually married, a woman named Mary Webber.  Once Jack died, Mary took over care of the wolves on her own, and Mary is the customer with whom John now works.

So, enough background.  I'm going to include some photos John and I took last week, a video shot by Mary's grandson that he's posted on Youtube, and another link to a really informative article about the work of Dr. McCleery and Jack Lynch that appeared in a 1979 Sports Illustrated article, of all places. 

Currently, the wolves live in 6 self-contained pens, and John's business partner Shane is building more this summer.  And what made my time watching the wolves the most fun was that the pen I was closest to contains 5 pups born this spring.  I believe these are the first to be born since the wolves were moved to their current location two years ago.

Here are photos John and I took:

This is the load of 10 foot wire John picked up in Billings and we delivered to the job site.

In addition to building the pens, Shane and his crew are also digging dens for the wolves.  This is one of the dens before they have built the top of it to create a dark, cool place for the wolves to escape to.

One of the adults -- I'm not sure if it's a male or female.

3 of the pups!

Here is Mary's grandson's video, which he filmed about a year ago.  The side of it gets cut off by the format of the blog, but you're still able to see everything.

Finally, here's a link to the Sports Illustrated article about the beginnings of the Foundation's work.  It's a lengthy article but very informative.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful blog -- thank you! My father, Dr. Bill Mitchell, was one of the veterinarians for the Lobo Wolf Park when it was located in Kane, PA. We are very excited to see that Jack Lynch's work goes on in Montana.