History of Foundation
By the end of the 19th century Montana and Wyoming had become relatively settled. Stock grazers ran herds over vast areas of these states. The plains or Buffalo wolf ran as direct competition to the ranchers as the wolves adapted to the changes in the environment by replacing buffalo with domestic livestock as a food source. In response to the competition the ranchers and the state and federal agencies of the time made every effort to eradicate the wolf populations of the states to ease the stresses placed on the domestic herds. These efforts were very successful and so by the early part of the 20th century wolf populations in these states had been reduced to just a handful of wolf families or packs.
During this period Dr. Edward Heber McCleery, of Kane PA, made a journey from his home to “see the west” and became aware of the fact that in very short order there would be no buffalo wolves. He resolved to make an effort to save some of these wolves by collecting as many specimens that he could in the small window that he had and build a sanctuary for them at his home in Kane.
In pursuit of this task he began a series of correspondence with trappers, wolfers and government officials and by 1920 he received his first litter of wolf pups. These efforts continued into the late 1920’s but by 1928 the supply of wolves from Montana and Wyoming had dwindled to the point that there was little reason to continue.
Dr. McCleery turned his attention to other species of wolves for a period of time and collected wolves from Sonora, Mexico and Hudson’s Bay Canada. Dr. McCleery believed that each variation of the wolf was unique, so he established separate containment areas for the various species. As time went on he allowed, for reasons unknown, the Mexican and Canadian wolf populations that he kept to die out. During this period and until his passing on May 23, 1962 he turned all his efforts to the preservation of his beloved Lobo wolves.
Overlapping the last few years of his life he was assisted by a man named Jack Lynch. When Dr. McCleery died Mr. Lynch took over the operations and control of the wolves. Mr. Lynch was clearly as dedicated to the preservation of the wolves as was Dr. McCleery. During the period of time that Mr. Lynch managed the wolves he relocated the preserve first to Gardiner WA in the early 1970’s and then again in the early 1980’s to Emigrant MT. The wolves remained in the hills west of Emigrant until Jack’s passing on July 26, 2006.
A combination of factors which included extremely difficult access to the preserve, Jack’s passing, and a damaging forest fire lead Mr. Lynch’s wife Mary to make the decision to relocate once again.
In August of 2008 after 18 months of preparation the preserve once again moved. Currently and hopefully permanently the wolves are located SW of Bridger MT. It is of note that this is the closest this group of wolves has been to their original range in the Highwood mountains of Montana since their removal to Kane, PA.
Dr. E.H. McCleery Buffalo Wolf Foundation (2016)
Ed & Terry Wheeler
President and CEO of Foundation (Current)