Dear Yellowstone Wolf Supporter,
As most of you know, I started working in Yellowstone in the spring of 1994, the year before the park reintroduced wolves. I worked in the Interpretation Division and all my talks were about wolves and the proposed wolf reintroduction. My title was Wolf Interpreter.
Three packs of Canadian wolves were brought down to the park in January of 1995, put in acclimation pens for two months, then released in March. When I returned to the park that May, I saw the six-member Crystal Creek pack on my first full day in Yellowstone. We had expected that the wolves would be hard to see after release, but they were very visible that spring.
I went out early every morning, looked for that pack, and then after finding the wolves helped visitors see them through my spotting scope. When school field trips and wildlife tour groups came on the scene, I would show them the wolves and do a short talk on the reintroduction program. By the end of the summer I had spoken to over 40,000 people and helped thousands of visitors see wolves.
I continued my position as Wolf Interpreter through the summers of 1996 and 1997. During those years, I also volunteered for Yellowstone National Park’s Wolf Project, headed by Doug Smith, to help monitor and study the packs in the northern section of the park. In the spring of 1998, I switched over to working for the Wolf Project. My position was split between doing wolf research and wolf education for park visitors. I continued to help people see wolves and gave educational talks throughout the park.
My jobs from 1994 through 1998 were summer positions. In the spring of 1999, I began to work year-round and experienced Yellowstone in the winter. I just finished my 19th winter in the park. In the past ten years, I gave 1,770 talks on wolves in the park and 26,000 people attended them.
For some time, I felt I needed to write a series of books so that I could share my experiences working with wolves in Yellowstone. The right time for that came earlier this year. I retired from the National Park Service at the end of February. Since then, I still go out every morning to look for wolves and study them but try to come back by late morning to write.
I have completed a draft of the first half of my initial book. It will be entitled Wolf 8: The True Story of a Father and His Adopted Son. I hope to finish a draft of the rest of this book in the next few months, then will work with a publisher and editor in preparing it for publication. The 25th anniversary of the reintroduction will be in January of 2020, so I plan to have my first book published prior to that occasion. The second book I plan to write is Wolf 21: In the Throne Room of the Druid King, and then a third book titled Wolf 302: The Prodigal Son.
Since 1994, my positions have been funded by donations, originally through the Yellowstone Park Foundation, now via Yellowstone Forever, in an account designated as the Wolf Education Program. To show my gratitude to all who have helped me over the years by donating in support of my work with wolves and visitors in the park, I intend to donate the majority of money from sales of my first wolf book to Yellowstone Forever. The money will go to the Wolf Education Program, to scholarships for elementary school students to attend the park’s Expedition Yellowstone program, and for high school students to participate in Yellowstone’s Youth Conservation Corps. I also intend to donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help children visit national parks or see wildlife.
The Wolf Education Program has continued this summer with Lizzie Cato, who I have worked with for many years on wolf research and public outreach, and Jack Rabe, who has a wildlife biology degree from Ohio State and started with the Wolf Project last May. Lizzie and Jack will continue to help people see wolves and present talks to visitors, school groups, and tour groups.
I want to express my deep appreciation to everyone who has donated to the Wolf Education Program over the years. We would not have been able to run that program without your support. I hope that all who have helped us in the past will continue to support the program into the future.
P.S. Last February 60 Minutes visited Yellowstone to film a segment on the reintroduction of wolves and interviewed Doug and me. Be on the lookout for that story to air this fall.