Wolf tales

31 May


We’re traveling with Carter Niemeyer into prime wolf country. Wolf country as far as you can see.

We’re about 60 miles northeast of Boise, Idaho, in the Edna Creek drainage area of the Boise National Forest.

We stop the truck and get out. Carter looks for wolf tracks on the gravel road. He finds fresh elk prints, coyote scat. But no evidence of wolf activity.

Sometimes it’s a wolf rendezvous here, he says. There will be thousands of wolf tracks on the road.

Carter lets loose a friendly howl. The sound carries for miles. But no response. The large wolf pack is just out of range.

We’ve started our day at 6:30 a.m., but it’s already too late for wolf activity here. Howl at daybreak, Carter says, and the wolves will answer. Canines enjoy howling, he says. They like to whoop it up.

Carter Niemeyer (’70 fisheries & wildlife biology, MS ’73), a 6’6” native of Garner, Iowa, knows wolves. A former government trapper in Montana and wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Idaho, Carter helped capture the wolves that were famously introduced in Yellowstone National Park and Idaho in the 1990s.

He’s controversial. He’s outspoken. He’s personally trapped more than 300 wolves: captured them, fitted them with radio collars, checked them for injury, and released them.

He worked in every corner of Montana for 27 years, and he’s been in Idaho for 13. He’s collected so many stories – of people and animals – over the years that friends kept telling him he should write a book.

So in 2010, with the help of his wife and editor, Jenny, Carter published a memoir: Wolfer. The book is filled with tales of growing up in Iowa, learning to trap and skin animals, and working his way through skunks and eagles and foxes and grizzlies before finding his niche with wolves in the Northern Rockies.

The book has sold more than 7,000 copies, Carter says, slightly amazed by this fact. “People love the book,” he says, shaking his head. “They say it’s a page turner.”

“But you can’t make this stuff up.”

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