October 2016 Readers’ Letters | HistoryNet MENU
In 2000 Doug Smith, who has studied wolves for more than 20 years, photographed this wolf of Yellowstone National Park's Druid pack.

October 2016 Readers’ Letters

By HistoryNet Staff
7/28/2016 • Wild West Magazine

Cry Wolf
“Wolf West,” by Dan Flores, in the June 2016 issue is a romantic tale at best. The few facts thrown in to hide the real message of this article does not make it legitimate—tripe is tripe. The emotional slant of the article in favor of an unlimited number of wolves in the West is also an open slap to those forced to live with wolves and to those men and women whose lifestyle includes hunting. Interesting that Lewis and Clark were mentioned. Wonder what their opinion of wolves was when they nearly starved to death in the Bitterroot Mountains when wolves roamed at will? An area in the 20th century that boasted elk and deer numbers by the thousands is now, with the reintroduction of the wolf, decimated to population lows approaching those of 100 years ago.

Rodney A. Fosback
Colville, Wash.

Dan Flores delivered an interesting, factual account of the history of the wolf in the West. I enjoyed not only the science of the lineage and ecology but also the written accounts of the way the wolf acted with non-Indian newcomers—that is, rather indifferent. Flores gives us his usual well-researched information. After laying out the eons-long history of the wolf, he turns to the relatively recent period in which the wolf goes from large numbers (alongside the bison) to next to nothing, owing to human depredation. The comparison is a stark one. No less dramatic is the shift in governmental policies regarding the wolf, from eradication to reintroduction.

As someone who lives in an area where wolves now reside, I have heard plenty about this hot topic. Flores keeps a level head in presenting the controversy, even if with a tinge of lament for the passing of the “wolf west” and a coloring of the earlier human actors as thoughtless (conditions were altogether different back then). He astutely observes that the present-day culture of the West “is and always has been a mix of many cultures,” implying there are many interests involved—where once economics was the driver of policy, now science and the Endangered Species Act play a larger role. Flores stops short of an opinion on how it should go for the wolf and for us, and I will too. But whatever the future landscape, it will not be the historical wolf west but a patchwork of different scenarios, depending on locale and what different groups can work out. It will be hardest on the individual, whether wolf or person. The genie is out of the bottle.

Kim Phillips
Hamilton, Mont.

Spiked Custer
In your June 2016 issue John Koster’s story on spiked helmets (“When Soldiers Wore Spikes”) was a good one. Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was very proud of his dress helmet. To my knowledge there are no known photos of Colonel Custer wearing it, so here [at right] is my drawing of him in full dress.

Don Moore
Killeen, Texas

On the Scout
Editor’s note: Several readers have corrected our editing mistake in “8 Great Frontier Army Scouts,” by Paul Hutton, on P. 10 of the August 2016 issue. The No. 8 scout’s name should have read Archie McIntosh (not William Wells); the description refers to McIntosh. The No. 9 scout would have been William Wells but had to be cut for space reasons. Here is Hutton’s description of Wells: “A white captive of the Miami Indians, he went on to marry Chief Little Turtle’s daughter and helped defeat Arthur St. Clair’s army in 1791. He then switched sides and led a band of ‘former Indian captive’ scouts who aided Anthony Wayne’s campaign against the Western Indian Confederacy in 1794. He became an Indian agent and died heroically in the defense of Fort Dearborn in 1812.”

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