Little Gem of the Month
The Wolves of Yellowstone
The wolves of Yellowstone have a very interesting history. By the end of the 1920s almost all of the United States’ wolves were killed off, predominantly by ranchers protecting their livestock. With the wolf population decimated, Yellowstone National Park then decided to reintroduce the grey wolf in 1995. It is one of the few protected havens for wolves in the U.S.
In December 2014, the park’s wolf numbers had grown to 104 making 11 packs. While wolves are protected within the park’s boundaries, outside the park different states have varying laws regarding wolf management. The availability of food within the park also leads to fluctuation in the wolves’ population. Wild wolves have a lifespan of 7-8 years.
The grey (or gray) wolf, is a large dog-sized canine with a large head, long legs, and, in the winter, bushy gray fur, tho this can vary from white to brown. They have been compared to a German Shepherd in size and appearance.
Wolves are pack animals that like to live with a close-knit crew of 4-7 wolves. Now in Yellowstone there are several well-known packs including the Lamar Canyon Pack and the Druid Peak Pack named after the portion of the park they inhabit. All together there are approximately 75 different packs in the greater Yellowstone region.
Wolves are scavengers and mainly like to feast on ungulates, large-hoofed mammals, such as deer and elk in the park.
As a result of the reintroduction of the wolves, other animals within the park have also grown in numbers due to the Ecosystem. Much of the past century, rarely would you hear the noise in the soundscape that is Yellowstone National Park, but today it is growing more and more common to hear the sound of a beaver slapping its tail on the water as a warning to other beavers.
When the Grey wolf was reintroduced into the greater National Yellowstone Park in 1995 there was only one beaver colony in the park. Today the park is currently home to nine beaver colonies and the promise of them expanding even more! Beavers are not the only ones to benefit from the reintroduction of wolves this has also had a knock on effect changing the eating habits of other animals when the wolves are around, therefore changing the foliage and grasslands for the better. Biologists are astonished as to the ripple effect the reintroduction of wolves has had to the park with the direct and indirect consequences throughout the ecosystem.
If you are interested in making the amazing Yellowstone Park part of your bespoke holiday to the United States then please contact us.
Photographs by kind permission of Helen Wibley