Yellowstone and Wolves

In the National Parks issue of Backpacker magazine is an article about the changes wolves have brought to Yellowstone. I’ve often get into discussions with people on this and usually leave out a link or two in this chain of events, so I’m writing it here for future reference. The re-introduction isn’t just about wolves being “cool”, it’s about all the rest too. The wolf itself is the icing on the cake.

Wolves were re-introducted to Yellowstone National Park in 1994.
“Preliminary research suggests that wolves are causing what we call a cascade effect,” says Yellowstone wolf biologist Douglas Smith. “For example, elk move away from feeding areas that have poor visibility to avoid wolves, which allows willow, cottonwood and other vegetation to flourish. With the return of this flora come beavers and dams. The dams produce ponds that are perfect for other wildlife.”
This ripple effect impacts the food chain in a similar fashion. Carcasses that wolves leave behind are an important food source for more than 12 different species, including grizzlies, coyotes, ravens, eagles and beetles. Meanwhile, populations of pronghorn antelope and red fox have rebounded after wolf packs reduced the numbers of their primary predator, the coyote. Scientists believe raptor numbers will jump, as well, because fewer coyotes should translate into a resurgence in rodent colonies.”

Sorry, their is no link.

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