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It all started with a doctor…
Dr. Edward Heber McCleery of Kane, Pennsylvania is known for saving the last of the western United States wolves - which he called "lobo wolves" - from extinction.
In the early 1900s, the United States and Canadian governments hired expert hunters to exterminate wolves from the American wilderness to protect livestock. Dr. E. H. McCleery, a physician with a love of wildlife and a fascination with wolves, wrote to the U.S. Biological Survey and offered to pay for wolf pups to be shipped to him rather than killed. Between 1921 and 1930, he purchased more than 20 live wolves through the United States and Canadian governments, zoos, and dealers.
Dr. McCleery's wolves came from the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, and were scientifically named Canis lupus nubilus. Dr. McCleery called these wolves "lobo wolves" ("lobo" is Spanish for "wolf") or "buffalo wolves" (their natural prey was the American bison). In 1930, the U.S. Biological Survey informed Dr. McCleery that his wolves were the last of the western United States wolf. The rest had been successfully exterminated.
Dr. McCleery built pens for his lobo wolves in his expansive backyard in Kane, Pennsylvania and bred them, intending to keep the subspecies bloodline pure. Many of his wolves were offspring of notorious "outlaw wolves" - especially intelligent animals which eluded hunters longer than any other members of their species - such as Old Snowdrift and Lady Snowdrift, the Custer Wolf, and Old Three Toes.
The story of the small town physician who owned a tame pack of wolves spread quickly across the nation, often appearing in newsreels at theaters around the world, and his "wolf farm" became a popular tourist destination. In 1929 Dr. McCleery moved his lobo wolves to a larger and more accessible location along Route 6 between Kane and Mt. Jewett where the pack - which fluctuated between 20 and 100 wolves at any given time - brought thousands of visitors to the area for several decades.