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 Wolves in Yellowstone

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Brief History

The Yellowstone wolf reintroduction began in 1995, initiated by Douglas Smith; a wolf biologist. Wildlife officials began the reintroduction with 14 wolves, arriving from Jasper Park in Alberta, Canada. Lamar Valley became the ideal location in Yellowstone for the wolves due to its sufficient expanse and resources.

The Change Wolves Made

When Yellowstone was established in 1872, people had the intention of providing a vast landscape for all the native wildlife on it to thrive. Before their reintroduction, plant habitat in the park was sparse. Ungulates (prominently elk) overgrazed which resulted in insufficient plant habitat. Beavers, a keystone species, were unable to construct dams–then resulting in inefficient river flow.

 

This harmed other native species. Following the successful introduction of wolves, plants and various species that disappeared from the park before wolf reintroduction were naturally restored. Science has proven that wolves create a trophic cascade that creates a ripple effect on their surrounding environments and inhabitants. Excess carcasses from wolf kills sustained food for scavengers such as coyotes, raccoons, badgers, foxes, ravens, and eagles. Once the willow trees were refurbished, they provided shade for freshwater fish and resources for beavers to build dams.

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