Q&A: Montana scientist on her lifetime spent with wolves

By Michael Doyle | 04/03/2024 01:36 PM EDT

Now retired, Diane Boyd has written a memoir about her pioneering work and the recovery of the gray wolf in the West.

Diane Boyd.

Diane Boyd at her appearance in an episode of the "Headwaters" podcast about the history of wolves at Glacier National Park in Montana. GlacierNPS/Flickr

Renowned wolf expert Diane Boyd has now taken her story into her own two hands.

In the years since a writer for Sports Illustrated sought her out in the wilds of Montana and returned with a 1993 account titled “The Woman Who Runs With the Wolves,” Boyd has repeatedly drawn attention for her work with the species.

She has studied the gray wolf, up close and personal, for more than 40 years. She has tracked the animal by airplane and by foot. She has seen, from the inside, how state and federal agencies differ in their wolf management approaches, and she has come to some conclusions on the politically fraught question of whether the gray wolf still requires Endangered Species Act protections.


After the species was listed as endangered in 1973, a wildlife biologist at the University of Montana named Bob Ream began a project to monitor the wolf’s expected return from Canada to the northern Rockies. Boyd signed on in 1979 as she started work on her master’s degree from the university and subsequently lived in a no-frills cabin on the Flathead River near the British Columbia border. She ended up tracking the first radio-collared gray wolf to recolonize the western United States.