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The History of Rocky Mountain Wolves in the Rocky Mountains

By 1935, hunting and trapping had eliminated wolves from the continental United States. Since their protection as an endangered species, wolves have moved south from Canada and have become reestablished in the Rocky Mountains and northern Great Lakes region. Conservationist who would like to speed up the process have reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Local ranchers are opposed to bringing back the wolves because they fear predation on their cattle and sheep. What are some reasons for reestablishing wolves in Yellowstone Park? What effects might the reintroduction of wolves have on the ecological communities in the region? What might be done to mitigate the conflicts between ranchers and wolves

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Background information from Yellowstone National Park:

Wolves prey on a variety of species, notably elk in the Yellowstone area, but will also pursue moose, deer, sheep and other animals.

"The government spent millions of dollars to reintroduce wolves to the wild in the Northern Rockies, and now it wants to spend millions more to kill them," says NRDC's Louisa Willcox.

"Wolves are one of the main attractions for visitors at Yellowstone National Park. People are amazed and awed when they see them," said Willcox. "Their recovery after more than a century of extermination is nothing short of miraculous. Turning back the clock would be a huge mistake."

Gray wolf populations have persisted and expanded in the northern Rocky Mountains since 1986, while reintroduction efforts in Idaho and Yellowstone have further bolstered the population.

Wolf and Livestock Conflicts in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming: an evaluation of wolf control and assessment of factors that may predispose cattle ranches to wolf predation.

The second part of the study involves an analysis of what factors may predispose cattle ranches and site specific areas on cattle ranches to wolf predation. Data were collected from ranchers who had experienced confirmed wolf depredations in confined pastures, to determine what landscape and/or ranch characteristics may be associated with these depredation events. Each depredated ranch was paired with up to four nearby non-depredated ranches for comparison. Communities that have experienced multiple depredation events have been the primary focus of this research. Data collection began in June 2002 and concluded in January 2003 and included the following areas: Paradise Valley, East Front, Marion, Eureka, Deerlodge, Bitterroot, and Big Hole areas in Montana, and the Salmon, Challis, and Stanley Basin areas in Idaho. Data are currently being compiled and prepared for analysis.

The overall purpose of this study was to provide information that may help decrease wolf conflicts with livestock. An analysis of the effectiveness of translocation ...

Solution Summary

This piece covers the path wolves in the Rocky Mountains have followed ranging from prevalence to endangered. The issue weaves between protecting the ecosystem of the natural environment to the modern day with farmers and cattle preservation.