Reintroduction of Wolves to Yellowstone National Park: Good or Bad?

Authors Avatar by samadahmed96gmailcom (student)

Samad Ahmed   Reintroduction of Wolves to Yellowstone; Good or Bad?

Reintroduction of Wolves to Yellowstone National Park: Good or Bad?


Wolves have always been a scape goat to human beings since as far as we can remember, remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? As such they have always been hunted by us and seen to be a menace. However, in recent years this view has begun changing. As such wolf reintroduction schemes have begun in many places, one such place is Yellowstone National park in Wyoming.

The wolves in Yellowstone National Park were no different. In 1926 the last of the wolves there were killed by the army and the removal of the top predator in the area had obviously effected the ecosystem. However, in 1995 an initiative by the American government finally came into play: wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park.

As such, there were changes to the ecosystem; differing societal views; and economic factors in hand. However, there are two major changes here: firstly, the effects after the reintroduction of the wolves; and, secondly, the effects of the extinction of the wolves in the area. I wish to explore the changes that occurred and reach a conclusion on whether the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park was worth doing or not.

Effects on the Ecosystem in Yellowstone:

The wolves were and are the major and biggest predator in Yellowstone. After their extinction elk levels began to rise as there was no major threat to them. Coyotes attempted to take the position of the wolves but they were not nearly as effective, this was due to their smaller size. [3] The increase in elk had therefore lead to a decrease in new vegetation. Elk, with little to nothing to fear, began to stay around open planes and river sides as they did not need to seek cover in thick vegetation. This inhibited the growth of new trees. [4]

The reintroduction of wolves however has been predicted and now proven to be a regulator to elk levels, however they also allow elk to sustain [1]. “15 North American wolf experts predicted that 100 wolves in Yellowstone would reduce the elk by less than 20%” – National Park Service, Yellowstone Elk [1]. This is also a very reputable source as it is a government corporation with no reason to lie. In addition, the link to experts suggests that serious research has gone into this. Further into the article, it is found that similar predictions have been found by computer modelling. This is a very useful tool in biology as it allows us to predict future events and it has proven to be accurate, especially in this circumstance. have written an article based on population surveys talking about the decrease of elk levels after reaching a peak in 1992, three years before the reintroduction, however they have also said that this is not entirely due to the wolves and speak of this decline as a bad thing [7].

Join now!

In addition, the reintroduction of wolves has become a form of natural selection as the wolves prey upon the weaker more feeble in a herd. I.e. they would attack the weakest of the group hence allowing the stronger animals to reproduce which therefore results in a stronger population as a whole as the stronger animals pass on their stronger genes. [2] Without the wolves present this form of natural selection will not be present. Yellowstone biologist Doug Smith says, “We’ve got a leaner, meaner elk herd.” [7]

As said, the absence of the wolves has resulted on their large prey ...

This is a preview of the whole essay