Saturday, November 7, 2009

More on Are Wolves Worth the Effort

To follow up on our second day of this class. Wolves were put on the endangered list in 1974, the year following the Endangered Species Act. The preliminary count for the Northern Range (where we are, Mammoth Hot Springs to the NE Corner of the Park), is 47. This is down from a high of 90 two years ago. But this regon has a high density of wolves. The interior of Yellowstone has about 67, total for the Park, 118. The high was 174. The number of pups has decreased and there are different theories, but the strongest theory is that it is stress. On the same note, the large carnivores in the USA have been on the decline for some time. People??? Some of the changes that have been noticed in this study of the wolves is that the willows, aspen and cottonwood have started to recover since 1998. Also, the number of beaver colonies has increased. Beaver need those trees/bushes to survive. Also, the beaver is a favorite of the wolf. The other thing wolves need is low elevation valleys (1600 feet in the Northern Rockies) to thrive. So, no conclusion but the study has produced ideas. I'll try to sumarize in a non-scientific way. The reduced elk have caused less browse pressure. The wolf almost always takes the old, sick animals. The ecological system works better when you have a diverse population of preditors and prey. Enough for now, Steve


  1. Just got back to the Washington, D.C. area after leaving Lamar Buffalo Ranch at daybreak yesterday. Your blog keeps us connected to the valley. Thanks! I read a good chunk of Doug Smith's Decade of the Wolf on the flight home and was fascinated by the part about the wolf population starting to decline. He wrote that in 2004. It will be interesting to see his final numbers for this year, which again seem to indicate there's a trend for a decline (as the blog also reports). What does it mean? Enjoyed watching the Druids with everyone on that windy afternoon. Hope you see more wolves soon. The rain/snow the night before we left the valley seems to have forced some of the elk herds to head down to lower pastures. We saw hundreds of healthy elk on the drive to Mammoth.

  2. Steve,
    I was unaware that you were doing this...I think it's fascinating and will follow your blog (forwarded by Mike at PLSAR). Wish I was there with my camera...enjoy.
    Karen Dingerson