The Yellowstone Wolf Controversy Essay

1463 words - 6 pages


One of the biggest reasons for the reintroduction of wolves back into Yellowstone was that they had originally roamed from Yellowstone all the way down to Mexico. While a lot of people were in favor of the reintroduction of the wolves, there were many who were against it. The main people who were against the reintroduction of the wolves back into the park were the ranchers who made a living in the areas surrounding the park.

During 70 years of absence from the Rockies, the Grey Wolf had been protected under the Endangered Species Act that was passed in 1973. Since the wolf is under the protection of Endangered Species Act a person could be punished with up to a $100,000 fine and up to 1 year in jail for killing a wolf. Back in the 1850's there was a major population increase of the wolves in America, this was due to settlers moving west. These settlers killed more than 80 million bison, the wolves started to scavenge on the carcasses left behind.

By the 1880's the majority of the bison were gone, so the wolves had to change food sources. This meant that they turned their attention to domestic livestock, causing farmers and ranchers to fight back. There were even some states offering bounties for the wolves. Montana had a bounty on wolves that totaled more than $350,000 on 81,000 wolves. Due to the lack of a food source, as well as the bounties being offered, a wolf was no longer safe in the lower 48 states.

However, there was one safe haven, and that was Yellowstone National Park that was established in 1872. In the year 1916 the National Parks Service started to eliminate all predators in Yellowstone National Park, which meant killing 136 wolves, 13,000 coyotes, and every single mountain lion. By 1939 this program was shut down, but all the wolves were long gone before that (Timber, 1998).

In 1974 the Fish and Wildlife Service started the Grey Wolf reintroduction plan. With this plan they decided on three areas in which to reintroduce wolves; Northwest Montana, the Yellowstone Ecosystem, and Central Idaho. In 1987 they released another plan that was more detailed than the first few. The recovery goal for the Grey Wolf was ten breeding pairs per area, which meant ten packs of ten wolves, or 100 total. With the release of the 1987 plan, a lot of opposition was raised.

For the first time in 70 years, the howl of the Grey Wolf is being heard throughout Yellowstone Park (Sanders, 2000). In January of 1995, 14 wolves from separate packs in Canada were trapped and transported to Yellowstone. Once in the park the wolves were placed in one acre acclimation pens. In total there were three pens scattered across the northern portion of Yellowstone: one a Crystal Creek, another at Rose Creek, and the last at Soda Butte. During the wolves time spent in these pens they were fed winter kill, or road kill. The packs that were formed in these pens were released in the winters of 1995-1996 and also again in 1996-1997 for a second...

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