HOMES ON THE RANGE Wolves, which had kept a toehold in the Upper Midwest (especially northern Minnesota), continue to recover and today number in the thousands there. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Defenders of Wildlife petitioned the federal government in 2002 to designate 16 million acres of forest and parks in southern Oregon and northern California as suitable habitat for up to 500 wolves. The animals, it seems, can lope farther than 500 miles in search of new homes. (The first wolf tracks in probably 70 years have appeared in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains, hundreds of miles from Yellowstone, but only tens from my home.) Meanwhile, the government is continuing introduction elsewhere. Mexican gray wolves were let go in the Apache and Gila National Forests of Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. In an article in the New York Times, Douglas W. Smith, chief of the Yellow-stone Wolf Project, claimed that the next places "on the table" for wolves are the Adirondacks, Southern Rockies, Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, and (most likely of all) northern Maine. Wherever wolves may come to be released in the future, however, in the Northern Rockies they are a fait accompli.