Wolves in Yellowstone

Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872. In the first 50 years or so, there were no laws protecting the wild animals. As a result, the wolves in Yellowstone National Park were hunted and killed by farmers. The wolves were killing their livestock. The last gray wolves in Yellowstone were killed in 1926, and there were no more wolves in Yellowstone.

In 1995 biologists decided to do something about the lack of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. To introduce the Gray Wolves back into Yellowstone, Doug Smith, Yellowstone’s wolf biologist, had to transport wolves from all over Canada. The wolves in all of the new packs didn’t know each other because one could have been taken from the British Columbia and another from Alberta. The packs were organized with one dominant male, one dominant female, and several subordinate younger wolves. The packs were completely new. One hundred four wolves split into 11 packs were transported to Yellowstone and placed into one acre acclimation pens per pack. The new alfa wolves mated and had babies. All but one of the packs bonded well. When the one pack was released, the males went one way and the females went another way. These wolves either died, or they found a way to join another pack.

The Rangers released the wolves using the soft release method. The soft release method involves great commitment and effort. You must continually feed them at the exact place the animals were released. This soft method, while time consuming, helped the packs acclimate.

While the wolves were in their acclamation pens, they were fed roadkill and other dead meat. This is called back-up feeding. They were fed once a week or less. The longest time interval between feeding times was 14 days without any sick conditions. A pack of six wolves will eat about 800 pounds of food per month. This weight would be equivalent to about two elk and a small deer. When the wolves did make a kill, each wolf would eat about 30 pounds of meat. 

There was a huge environmental change with the reintroduction of wolves. Before the reintroduction, there was only one colony of beavers in Yellowstone. Now there are at least nine. Because of the lack of predators, the elk had been heavily eating the willow. This made a huge impact on the beavers because they need willow to survive the winter. When the wolves started hunting the elk again, they could no longer stay in one place to heavily eat the willow. Instead, they were constantly moving. Because of this, the beaver population rose. More beavers were living through the winter.

The scavengers were impacted by the reintroduction of wolves too. Since there were wolves now, there was more carrion in the winter and spring. This benefits magpies, ravens, eagles, coyotes, and bears (both black and grizzly). It especially affected the bears coming out of hibernation. It positively impacted a lot of animals.

Even though the wolves were taken from their Canadian habitats and brought to Yellowstone National Park, with some help, they thrived again. They helped a lot of animals, and the ecosystem. Without wolves the elk would have overrun the park, and the beavers would have disappeared from it. Wolves are a crucial part of the ecosystem.


  1. Your post gave us a lot to think about. I had read a similar article by NH Fish and Game about the rise and fall of the beaver population in NH and how it connected to the moose in the larger ecosystem. So what got you interested in wolves in Yellowstone? I really enjoyed your writing. It was very clear and flowing in the organization of your thoughts.

  2. Hey there! I enjoyed your writing quite a lot, I liked all of the information you had about Yellowstone and the wolves inside of it. I had no idea how much of a change this made to the environment, and it definitely seems that perhaps the reintroduction of them actually helped the other Yellowstone wildlife.

  3. G’day Karis,
    You have certainly done a lot of research on the re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. I’ve watched a few videos from National Geographic about Yellowstone and how the wolves have changed the eco-system there.

    If you write an essay or informative article like this, it is always a good idea to list the books or websites where you found the information. Just add it as Sources at the bottom of your writing. This then shows your readers that you have researched not just written what you think happened.

  4. G’day again Karis,
    I wonder if you could find a couple of images to add to your writing. You have done a great job with the paragraphs but a couple of images would improve it even further.

  5. Hey Karis. Nice looking post! I learned a lot from all the information you put into your post. Even though there was a lot to read, your formatting and writing skills jokester it interesting. Just in September I went to alberta and actually got to see some gray wolves In person. Have you ever some wolves and if not do you plan to visit some place soon where you can meet them?

    Thanks for the great post and good luck with the rest of the SBC. If you want to check out my blog heres the link: http://www.blog44.ca/owenc/

  6. Hi Karis, I am Lucas. I think you did an outstanding job writing this! I read about the situation in Yellowstone, and how they solved the problem. It really goes to show how important animals are to an ecosystem. Hope you can check out my blog at http://2025lrb.edublogs.org/


  7. Hi Karis,
    Your blog post is very descriptive and well organized. I heard about this problem before at a wildlife wolf centre at a school field study. For my week five post, I chose to do four tasks (about an instrument, what makes sound and music’s benefits). If you want to visit my blog, it is http://www.blog44.ca/andersb/. I do a really cool program called PLP, which I post all about the process and product of projects.

  8. Hello!
    I really love how you set up your Blog. Also I think you did an outstanding job writing this.

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