Diane Boyd tells true wolf stories — with science & art

“You learned about the wolves by watching the story they’re recording in their tracks…Just like us, every wolf is a very unique individual.” Diane Boyd

When Diane Boyd arrived in Montana in 1979, wolves had not inhabited the area in over 40 years. As a young wolf biologist, she was the only woman studying wolves in the wild, carefully tracking the few wolves that were beginning to wander down from Canada.

Diane Boyd in the field in the early years of her career.

As she recounts, there was “a lot of mythology and a lot less science at the time” about wolves, and she wanted to help increase understanding of this often persecuted and maligned species.

Through her fieldwork, she was able to significantly improve our understanding of wolves and record information that painted an honest portrait of wolf lives.

A number of times in her career, hunters killed wolves she had collared and was studying. Sometimes, she was able to meet the hunter and share more about the wolf that they had both come to know. In that process, she came to discover the commonality between some hunters and herself, especially the respect they had for wolves and the mutual interest in sharing wolf stories.

Diane is also an artist who works with oil paints to convey her sensed experience of wildlife and the places they inhabit. She has found that art gives her an outlet that her work as a biologist does not always allow. Through her painting, she attempts to express a sense of connection with other species.

In April 2016, we sat down along the Flathead River near Glacier National Park in Montana and spoke about her work as a biologist and painter. Click below to listen to a portion of that conversation.

You can read Diane’s essay about Sage, one of the wolves she’s tracked, in Wild Wolves We Have Known.

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