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Wolves Good for Yellowstone, Says Study

Wolves Good for Yellowstone, Says Study

Yellowstone aspen trees, willow and cotton wood are growing where large elk populations use to be, which prevented the tree stands from expanding. The return of gray wolves to the park has reduced elk herds, which in turn allows certain trees to reproduce and expand in number, and new study has shown.

William Ripple, one of the study’s authors said, “They’re more than just charismatic animals that are nice to have around. We’re finding that their function in nature is very important.” Source: Chicago Tribune)

Climate change and wildfires also can play a role in the tree growth, but research has confirmed wild wolves contribute too. Their presence can have a cascade effect, meaning when new trees grow they then provide more habitat for birds, and beavers have more fodder for building dams. With new dams comes more ponds for fish, frogs, and insects.

The role of wild wolves in relation to Yellowstone’s trees has been disputed by various researchers, and they say other things like stream levels also are factors, but it is looking like wolves contributions are being confirmed by science.

As Ripple and Beschta said in their study, “In ecosystems where wolves have been displaced or locally extirpated, their reintroduction may represent a particularly effective approach for passive restoration.” (Source: Oregon State University)

A University of Montana study found some years ago, that the presence of wolves is worth about $35 million dollars annually to the local economy. Many tourists to Yellowstone say one of the wild animals they most want to see is wolves.

Most of the wolf-related news recently published has been about their destruction such as the approval for aerial shooting of them in Idaho. Also a hunter’s group offered a reward of $100 per dead wolf to encourage hunting them.

Image Credit: National Park Service, Public Domain

Related Links

85% of Wolves Could be Killed in Idaho
Wolves in California?

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Wildlife

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73 comments

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4:23PM PST on Jan 12, 2013

This is not new. But hunters don't want to hear it. Until it's too late.

3:44PM PST on Nov 22, 2012

Please let sense prevail and save these animals before its too late

11:29AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

These animals have a reason for being where they are and should be protected.

3:53AM PDT on Jul 21, 2012

I have a great passion for wolves, obviously, so this documentation is a wonderful, albiet small, glimmer of hope for wolves in the wild. This type of information needs to be wide spread in order to dispel the many myths and propaganda floating out there. It is my dream, one day, to visit your country and my sole purpose for this journey is to see and hear wolves, hopefully free. I am sure I am not alone.

4:37PM PDT on May 22, 2012

im not sure if my comment posted.. Watch "Strange Days on planet Earth"

4:36PM PDT on May 22, 2012

nat geo did a segment on this. See also "Strange Days on Planet Earth"

9:21AM PDT on May 13, 2012

NATURE HAS ITS OWN BALANCE!

7:18PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Now everyone needs to know this!

4:24PM PST on Jan 20, 2012

This article is an excellent one to send to US senators, Democratic as well as Republican, who acted for the 1% ranching interests and voted to let states decide whether or not to legalize the extermination of this endangered species. I will let my senators know that this issue makes it much more difficult for me to support them in future elections.

10:47AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

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