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?

73 comments

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege3 years ago

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

Jane Mckenzie
Jane Mckenzie3 years ago

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

Heidi R.
Past Member 4 years ago

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

Vanessa Wolfe
Vanessa Wolfe4 years ago

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.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

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

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

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

sheri denato
Past Member 4 years ago

NATURE HAS ITS OWN BALANCE!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

Now everyone needs to know this!

Fran F.
Fran F.4 years ago

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.

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)