After being annihilated by government predator control programs by the 1930s, gray wolves made a dramatic comeback in the northern Rocky Mountains. By the mid-2000s, more than 600 roamed in at least 30 confirmed packs in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

The successful reintroduction of the West’s top predators was a biological victory. Socially, the issue was vastly different.

“Save an elk—Kill a wolf,” proclaimed bumper stickers in the central Idaho hamlets of Stanley, Clayton, Challis and Salmon. “Kill all the goddamn wolves and the people who put them here,” read a sign in a storefront window in Clayton. Such warnings are a testament to the deep-seated controversy spurred by the wolf’s return.

For roughly five years in the early- and mid-2000s, I chronicled the recovery and controversy.

  • The B2 chronicles: Idaho’s oldest wolf passes
  • Wolf wars: Idaho ranchers see their livelihoods at stake
  • Wolf flight: On the trail of the Stanley Pack
  • Return of the Wolf