Camping with Wolves
In 1995, wildlife biologists reintroduced 14 Canadian wolves into Yellowstone. Today, the population has increased to 124 animals, presenting new thrills–and a few chills–to backcountry hikers. Here are safe-hiking tips from Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone Wolf Project.
Use Bear Precautions The same rules apply: Hang your food 100 yards from where you sleep, and avoid on-trail surprises by making noise while you hike.
Make Space “Backcountry wolves will almost always avoid you,” says Smith. But in some instances, a curious wolf might approach. If so, modify your route and let the wolf move away. “If it doesn’t run, stand your ground, yell, clap your hands, and flap your jacket.” Still too close? Use bear spray.
Fight Back There’s one big exception to the just-like-bears rule, notes Smith: “If a wolf grabs hold of you, fight like hell.” But sleep easy: Wolf attacks are rare, with only 20 recorded nationwide in the entire 20th century.