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Wolf-Watching Guide Sees Spike in Business

December 6, 2011

KETCHUM, Idaho - People in the Rockies and from around the country are willing to pay just for the chance to see a wolf in its natural habitat. That's what a guide has discovered, and the tours he and his wife offer in Yellowstone National Park are always booked.

Nathan Varley says his waiting list of clients demonstrates there is economic potential, something he thinks Idaho businesses should investigate.

"So, we've been in the industry a long time, and I mean, it just seems to be a growing business at a time when a lot of businesses aren't growing at all."

Varley says he hopes states that are wrestling with wolf management issues see that the animals have positive economic value beyond hunting.

"We tell you the history of the pack, and the different roles of the individuals and their personalities, and the fascinating ecology, but it's also just sort of an interesting drama."

He says Idaho's focus has been on reducing wolves through hunting and trapping, and the wolf-watching tourism angle has been mostly neglected. He adds that wolf-watching tourism provides much-needed off-season revenue for his business, and that winter is the best time to see wolves.

The next Yellowstone tour he's leading is in mid-January. Details are at

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID