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06.10.2011

Erich Klinghammer passed away

Erich Klinghammer in 2005, © Monty SloanIn the morning hours of October 6, Dr. Erich Klinghammer, the founder and former director of Wolf Park has died at the age of 81 after he had been in ill health for about a month. His mortal remains are to be cremated and his ashes spead in the bison pasture at Wolf Park.

Erich was born on February 28, 1930 in Kassel, Germany and emigrated to the US in 1951. The first few years he lived in Iowa before he moved to Chicago to finish high school, which he could not do in Germany after the war.

Erich was stationed in Austria as an American soldier between 1953 and 1955 and after his return started studying biology at the University of Chicago under the ethologist Eckhard Hess. Hess was also born in Germany and emigrated at an early age. He had good contacts to Konrad Lorenz and so Erich had the opportunity to spend a whole summer in Lorenz' institute in Seewiesen, which was a life shaping experience to him.

Erich wrote his dissertation on the imprinting of Mourning Doves and African Collared Doves. Shortly thereafter, however, he developed ornithosis, a zoonotic infectious disease.

He has always took great interest in dogs, especially after an occurence in his youth when his female German Shepherd "Edda" saved his life vigorously waking him up while his room was in flames after an old oven caught fire.
In his first years in the USA, Erich spotted his first wild wolves during a horseback ride across the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska. Later in his life, at the University of Chicago, he got the chance to meet a hand-reared wolf for the first time and was impressed how different the wolf was from all the dogs he knew.

All these circumstances eventually contributed to the decision to dedicate his scientific and private life to wolves and wolf research, and also led to the establishment of Wolf Park in 1972.

There is one quote by Erich that comes to mind at this point: "On a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago I once looked out of the window over the vasts swaths of open land and thought to myself - what would you be proud of in the evening of your life - what do you want to achieve? Certainly, I would love to contribute to the preservation of the wilderness of this - yet - beautiful country."

His work for the wolf and Wolf Park itself, his legacy to the future, were a major contribution of just that aim. Wolf Park shaped and influenced generations of biologists and will indubitably continue to do so.

We all owe a lot to Erich and Wolf Park - today's wolf preservation efforts would not be the same without their work.

Rest in peace, Erich. We will truly miss you.



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Further news articles
07.08.2010

Federal Court Reinstates Federal Wolf Protections

BOZEMAN, Mont.— In a victory for the gray wolves of the northern Rockies, a federal judge today granted conservationists' request to stop the slaughter of wolves and reinstate federal Endangered Species Act protections. The ruling prevents wolf hunting from going forward in Montana and Idaho. The court ruled the federal government illegally subdivided the northern Rockies wolf population, eliminating federal protections for the vast majority of the region's wolves even while acknowledging that they remain endangered by Wyoming law.

Today's ruling comes in response to a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on behalf of 13 conservation groups. The groups argued that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by removing wolves in Idaho and Montana from the list of threatened and endangered species. As a result of today's ruling, federal protections have been restored. Wolves throughout the rest of the lower 48 United States remain on the list.

The conservation groups also argued that the government's determination that 300 wolves constitute a recovered wolf population in the northern Rockies ignored current science. Independent scientists have concluded that 2,000 to 5,000 wolves are necessary to secure the health of the species in the region. With continued recovery efforts, legitimate wolf recovery in the northern Rockies is readily attainable. However, wolf hunts and aggressive wolf killing by state and federal agencies jeopardize this result.

Both Idaho and Montana held wolf hunts in 2009. Hunters in those states killed 260 wolves.

Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Network, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.

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