Recreation Dimension of Wolf Management in Yellowstone
Current Conflicts with Humans
Conflicts With Humans
Since humans and wolves have roamed the earth together they have
competed with each other for resources. In recent evolutionary history
humans have moved into wolf territory, eaten their prey and replaced
it with domestic livestock. This conflict of interest has caused
many problems that humans have tried to solve by exterminating the
wolf. Methods of extermination have changed little over the years
and wolves are still being hunted in many parts of the world. Under
the Endangered Species Act, the United States has protected the
wolf throughout the U.S., execpt in Alaska and Northern Michigan,
where populations are healthy. In Alaska the wolf is still hunted
where the animal has become a problem to humans or in native interests.
Canada still allows the wolf to be
hunted in limited numbers by professionals or for nuisance reasons
Russia however still encourages the hunting of wolves and in good
financial years, the government rewards the hunters with bounties.
It is the ultament goal of Russia to exterminate the wolf.
employs several techniques for wolf control
- Poisons are one of the most common forms of wolf control because
of their low cost and maintaince. They are most commonly placed
in meat but sometimes a cut is made in a domestic dog and poison
is placed inside. The dog is then chained down and left to bleed.
Wolves are attracted to the blood and crying of the dog. Unknowingly,
when the wolf consumes the dog it is also consuming poison. This
method is very effective for wolf control, but can be very harmful
for wildlife that feed off of the wolfs body. The poison
is then transferred through the food chain and can have harmful
effects on all that consume the wolf or grass that the wolf decomposed
- Snares and leg hold traps are also quite common. The wolf is
attracted to a piece of meat, steps in the trap, it springs shut,
and the wolf is caught. This method is highly used because the
wolf cannot wander off and the trapper can then receive a bounty
for each wolf caught from the government.
- Wolves may be shot from an aircraft in high numbers. Entire
packs may be killed in a day. This method, no matter how effective,
is very expensive and not widely used.
may be employed like the Russian Wolfhound, to sniff out the wolves
while hunters ride along on snowmobiles. This method is used primarily
by the upper class because of its cost.
watching in Yellowstone National Park is an activity that
is fast growing in popularity. Since the wolves' introduction
in 1995 public awareness and interest in wolves and seeing
wolves has growth exponentially. Most if not all of the
wolf sightings have been in the Lamar Valley in the northeast
corner of the park. During peak season it is possible to
see cars parked at every turnout, their occupants just a
few yards away, equipped with binoculars, eyes trained at
the hills, waiting for a peak, just a glimpse, of one of
the Yellowstine wolves.
growth in the northeast corner of the park has been somewhat
unexpected. It was hypothesized that wolves would have a
positive effect on the tourism in the area but the extent
of that interest was grossly miscalculated. The roads in
the area, traditionally less frequented than those that
connect the more established tourist attractions, have been
flooded in recent years with an uncharacteric level of traffic
and the ecosystem, not accustomed to human disturbance and
observation in such intensities, has been left on its heels.
winter the road from the north entrance at Mammoth to Cooke
City remains open as it is the only way to get to the small
Rocky Mountain town. During the winter months, despite the
cold, the roads are still frequently lined with cars in
search of wolves. This is probably the best time to view
the animals as they stick out more against the white landscape
and the crows, although there, are less.
What You'll Need:
A car -- Serious
wolf watching is not a task to be done on foot. Packs are
miles apart and in the early hours of morning, walking is
just not feasible.
Spotting Scope -- Wolves are timid predators and do not
venture terribly close to tourists like the ungulates to
the south. Many wolve sighting are had from across valleys
or from turn-outs at overlooks. Binoculars will do but in
many cases spotting scopes are neccesary to see anything
at many of the distances the average wolf watcher must deal
A Chair -- Patience
is a virtue and wolf watching is a very virtuous activity.
Expect to wait when you find a good spot. Comfort dictates
adequate posterior placement.
Time -- As stated
before, wolf watching is not for the faint of heart. In
order to see wolves, one must be willing to sit and let
them come to you.
Where to Go and
What to Do:
The Lamar Valley
is the place to go. Many of the park's packs frequent the
Plan on a long
drive. The Lamar Valley is pretty remote and in peak season,
traffic can make this drive time consuming.
Think and act
like a wolf. Wolves are early risers. Get up early if you
want to increase your chances or actually seeing a kill
or wolves at all.
Bring the right
tools. Binoculars are a must. Wolves do not chill out by
the roads as do elk and bison. Watch the hills, and the
hills are far away.
Enjoy the Lamar
Valley. It's pretty. Even if you don't get to see wolves,
you are treated to one of the more remote and wild portions
of the park.