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Reintroduction And Extirpation Of The Gray Wolf

1366 words - 6 pages

In this research paper, I will address the changes that occurred within the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park since the reintroduction of the grey wolves. The paper will consist of four sections; the first section will include the history behind the extirpation and subsequent reintroduction of the gray wolf in Northern America. The second section will explore the political controversy that surrounds the reintroduction of the gray wolf in Yellowstone. The third section will contain discuss the gray wolf and its impact on the ecosystem of Yellowstone. I will conclude my essay by explaining how the gray wolves act as climate change buffers in Yellowstone amidst global warming.
The history behind the extirpation of the grey wolf in the United States dates back to the very first European settlers that colonized eastern North America in the late 16th century. The killing of gray wolves was done primarily out of fear in an attempt to protect livestock, and, in some cases, to protect human life within the colonies. As more settlers expanded West, the practice of killing wolves was considerably increased to protect livestock that included cows, pigs, and chickens. As waves of European settlers expanded westward, they began to deplete the deer, moose, and elk populations. The gray wolves food source continual depletion gave rise to wolf populations actively targeting the settler’s livestock, causing great financial loss. The fiscal loss of livestock became such an issue to wealthy ranchers and settlers that they began to offer cash rewards for wolf pelts. This practice gave birth to a lucrative cottage industry of professional hunters and trappers. As the wolves began to move further West, and into Wyoming, they began to diminish the elk and moose population. To respond to this threat, Congress approved funding in 1914, to eliminate the native gray wolves from Yellowstone, fearing elk and moose populations may be wiped out in that region ( Outland 1). After garnering funds from congress, the state of Wyoming eliminated the gray wolf population in Yellowstone, and through most of Wyoming. Over the next twelve years, Wyoming officials killed over 126 gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park (Outland 1). In 1995, The National Park Service took on the massive task of reintroducing the species under the Endangered Species Act. The NPS in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service captured 14 gray wolves from Fort St. John and Hinton Canada, and successfully implanted them in Yellowstone (Robbins 79). Since 1995, an additional 17 Canadian gray wolves have been added, and their numbers have been steadily increasing ever since.
Despite the benefits Yellowstone ecosystem has gained since the reintroduction of the gray wolf, many support the de-listing of the gray wolf as an endangered species. The state legislators of Montana and Wyoming have introduced legislation that would turn federal management of the wolf populations over to...

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