Grey wolves should remain in Yellowstone National Park because they help the park’s biodiversity and ecosystem. They also contribute to the economies of rural communities near Yellowstone.
The presence of wolves in the Lamar Valley near Gardiner is one of the many reasons why so many people visit the small town. As the north entrance to Yellowstone, Gardiner gets many tourists in large tour buses. Because Gardiner is so close to the park, people will usually stay in Gardiner overnight there. Staying overnight helps boost the economy. In the low lying fields of the Lamar Valley tourists can possibly see the wolf in it’s natural habitat, along with it’s prey. Though it is rare to see a wolf, the howls can be heard easily due to the Lamar Valley’s acoustics. Lamar Valley is accessible year round through the town of Gardiner causing traffic to often stop in the town, visit its tourist attractions, and shop and eat at Gardiner’s businesses.
The wolves impact the environment in many ways by helping balance out the ecosystem. Before the wolves were reintroduced into the park in 1995, the animals in the ecosystem were drastically imbalanced. If you were to take the wolves out of the park or kill them to near extinction, the beaver population would drastically drop because the elk will begin to overgraze low lying areas, diminishing all the nutrients from the soil to the point where nothing can grow. This leads the beaver population to migrate, which causes their dams to collapse leading to debris falling into the water and streams, which clutters the water while simultaneously leading the fish population to deplete in radical amounts because of the loss of habitat.
The relationship between bears and wolves is symbiotic. Both rely on one another’s kills, in order to gain food. If a bear makes a kill, a wolf will eat the remains of the other animal. Similarly if a wolf makes a kill, they will eat what they need to survive and leave the rest of the animal carcass for the bears to eat. This proves they co-exist in the ecosystem. Without the cooperation of bears and wolves working together, the ungulate populations will become imbalanced, taking away the diversity of animals in the park.
One problem is people who blame wolves for a good percentage of livestock and domestic animal kills when, in fact that’s not the case most of the time. In an article written by Christie Wilcox from Discover Magazine, she quotes a rancher who lives near Yellowstone National Park, as saying “Almost 70 percent of the calves died before their first birthdays, and Barber-Meyer’s team determined that wolves killed only 15 percent of them — not nearly enough to explain Middleton’s missing calves. Death by wolf, Barber-Meyer found, was dwarfed by the 60 percent of these tagged calves killed by bears (more than half of them by grizzlies). That was three times as much bear predation as was found two decades earlier. Realizing the role of bears revealed a much bigger and messier picture than Middleton had anticipated.” According to the uneducated person, they think that wolves are the main source of livestock deaths.
Ranchers are reimbursed for wolf kills but not for bear kills. If we were to reimburse ranchers for bear kills as well, that would keep them happy and they would not blame the wolves as much. This would be one of the better solutions to the problem because bear kills are just as much or more a problem than wolf kills are. Another solution we can recommend is for the ranchers to build better defended fences. Ranchers could use electric fence as well as regular barbed wire. If they do so, ranchers can better protect their livestock from wandering predators, such as wolves and bears.
Yellowstone Wolves by Xavier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.