Twenty-five years ago this month, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, America’s first national park and an ecosystem dangerously out of whack owing to the extirpation of its top predator. Many people believe that the wolf reintroduction didn’t do anything to restore the Yellowstone ecosystem; others believe that the wolf was the sole factor causing the recovery. The truth, as with most things, probably lies somewhere in the middle: wolves were responsible for some , but not all , of the ecosystem response seen in Yellowstone. Wolves, which had been hunted to extinction in the park, were reintroduced. Gray wolves were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1974, paving the way for their reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995. When 12 wolves were killed my first year here, during the hunting season of 2012-2013, by hunters just across Yellowstone’s northern boundary, wolf numbers plummeted in the park. Wolves flourished amidst Yellowstone's abundant prey and expansive, protected wilderness. From 1995 to 1997, wolves were captured in Canada and northwest Montana and transported to Yellowstone . And so from 1995 to 1996, thirty-one wolves were released back into the park with the hopes of restoring balance to this dying ecosystem (NPS, 2015). Yellowstone national park reintroduced gray wolves to the park in 1995, and Washburn looks to it as a living laboratory and model for Colorado’s reintroduction plans. Wolves had been absent from Yellowstone National Park for more than 70 years until they were reintroduced in the 1990s – with some surprising benefits. THE 1995 WOLF REINTRODUCTION AND THEIR FATE. Everything started to change after scientists reintroduced 41 wolves into Yellowstone National Park. The Debate over Wolves in Yellowstone. Fifteen additional wolves were captured and sent to Central Idaho. With ESA listing came the goal of restoring wolves to their historic range, and in 1995 and 1996, following many years of public planning and input, a total of 31 wolves, captured in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, were reintroduced to Yellowstone. They were placed on the Endangered Species List in the 1970s, and in 1995 and 1996 the federal government reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho. In January 1995, eight grey wolves from Jasper National Park in Alberta were dropped off at Yellowstone. As of 2015, the wolf population had grown from 41 to more than 400! After a long and heated debate which lasted almost a decade, in January 1995, fourteen wolves were captured in Rocky Mountains of western Alberta and brought to Yellowstone National Park. The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone has been transformative for the park.
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