Hunting Just Outside Of Park Boundaries Threatens Wolves In Yellowstone National Park
Calling all extreme wolf fans, the wolves in Yellowstone National Park who have been able to flourish since their introduction in 1995, are facing a new threat. Are they still protected in the park? Of course, but that’s not the problem.
Researchers and conservationists at Yellowstone National Park have worked hard to protect these incredible wolves, and they wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise their wellbeing. Yellowstone National Park is like a ‘no fly zone’ for hunters.
However, as soon as a poor wolf steps outside of the park boundaries, they could be at risk. These wolves, who have not been hunted in their Yellowstone home, are different to other wolves. They’re used to humans.
Thousands upon thousands of tourists come to spot them, and they are pretty laid back about the whole thing. “Yellowstone is the best place in the world to view wolves,” said Douglas Smith, the park’s wolf biologist.
They are also happy to have researchers around, collecting data. These wolves have never been trapped or shot at. But this does have a downside, because they’ve got no fear of humans, but if they leave the park, they really should fear man. There have been rumours of hunters literally being able to take their pick of which wolf to kill, because the packs show no caution towards people.
Some states surrounding the park are starting to allow hunting wolves who wander from the safe confines of Yellowstone. In March, a United States Court of Appeals started the process of allowing Wyoming to join Idaho and Montana to legalise wolf hunting.
Around 100 wolves made up of ten packs live in Yellowstone (30 were originally introduced), but there are around 1,700 in the Western states of Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Montana and Washington. And the ranchers certainly aren’t too pleased about these wolves threatening their livestock.
Enter the urge to hunt the wolves. Researches fear this will completely change the behaviour of the wolves in the park, and sabotage their research studies. The wolves may gradually start to act differently and shy away from human contact, not trusting people as they have done in the last decade here.
It may also have an impact on tourism in the park, as so many people come to catch a glimpse of the wolves. A paper published last year by Dr. Smith and others found that sightings of wolves in Denali and Yellowstone “were significantly reduced” by as much as 45 percent from trapping and hunting.
And sadly, news has just come in that a rare and infamous white female alpha wolf was shot in Yellowstone on the 11th of April. The mortal wound was from a gunshot. Considering hunting wolves in Yellowstone is illegal, this is a criminal act. The Park are offering a $5000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killer.
What might the next ten years hold for the future of the Yellowstone wolves? It will be interesting to see how their behaviour changes and how allowing hunting in more surrounding states impacts their numbers.
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