Jack Lynch and Mary Wheeler's Wolf Park at Emigrant, Montana

Wolves in pens at Jack and Mary Lynch's wolf preserve in Emigrant, MT. This is a screen shot from the documentary "Wolf Man, Wolf Wish."At the end of 1980 Jack Lynch and Mary Wheeler moved the wolves from Gardiner, Washington to Emigrant, Montana, a small community bordering the Gallatin Range and near the towns of Livingston and Bozeman. The new wolf park was located about 25 miles north of Yellowstone National Park.

The Emigrant park consisted of 160 acres.189 Jack and Mary constructed the pens, which were 65 x 100 or 120 feet each, situated apart from each other so that the wolves could not attack each other through the fences. Some pens contained mounds in which the wolves dug their dens.5 In 1988 the park contained 19 wolf pens, each 10,000 square feet, in which family groups were kept.217

Immediately upon moving to Montana, Jack sought permission from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to pick up roadkill to feed to his wolves. Pennsylvania and Washington had both allowed Jack to take roadkill, but Montana denied Jack permission.255

Soon after the move to Montana, Jack and Mary got married217 and Mary Wheeler changed her name to Mary Lynch.

Wolves in pens at Jack and Mary Lynch's wolf preserve in Emigrant, MT. This is a screen shot from the documentary "Wolf Man, Wolf Wish."In 1988 a male wolf - which came to be known as the "Chico Wolf" - was killed by a car near the Lynches' wolf preserve. The Montana Fish and Wildlife Service suspected it was an escapee from the Lynches' preserve, but Jack denied this; captive wolves in Montana are required to have identification tattoos, and this wolf did not have any tattoos.257

Until the late 1980s, the Lynches and their wolves appeared semi-frequently in newspaper and magazine articles. By around 1990 media coverage of the Foundation had mostly ceased.

By the early 1990s the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park had become a serious consideration. Because the Lynches lived so close to the park, they and their wolves occasionally became a part of the conversation. The Lynches were staunchly opposed to the proposed reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. Back in 1976 when Dr. Durward Allen had proposed a Great Plains National Park which could potentially include Lynch's wolves,254 Jack had supported such a plan because the proposed park would have been fenced off, offering the wolves protection and avoiding confrontation with the ranching community. The Yellowstone reintroduction plan assumed that the wolves would stay in the park without fences, a notion with which Jack disagreed. In 1995, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park.

After the reintroduction (between 1996 and 1998) one of Yellowstone's wolves - 3M from the Leopold Pack - began preying on sheep at a ranch near the Lynches' wolf sanctuary. It is believed that 3M was searching for a mate and was attracted to the area by the howls of the Lynches' wolves. Jack got a photo of 3M on his property before the wolf was killed for preying on livestock.2

Jack Lynch passed away on July 26, 2006 at the age of 82.1 Two years later in 2008, Mary Lynch and her son Edward Wheeler moved the wolves to a new, larger location in Bridger, Montana.


1Ancestry.com. (2011). Social Security Death Index. Retrieved from Ancestry.com

2Sources: http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/wpages/yell-o.htm#Leopold%20Pack%201996-98 and http://www.thewildlifenews.com/wolf-reintroduction-history/. I would like to confirm the date.

Learn More

Find out more about the Emigrant park by exploring the Locations - Emigrant, MT tag in the archive.