Statement by Tim Stevens, Northern Rockies Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association
“When gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995, following their eradication from the area in the 1920s, we were hopeful that nature’s balance in our nation’s first national park would return. And in the 17 years since, this is exactly what has happened, research in places like Yellowstone has shown the positive impact that wolves have had on the park’s plants and wildlife. But with the success of the wolf reintroduction, these iconic creatures have been removed from the endangered species list and hunting has ensued in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
“And just two years removed from the list in Montana, this year’s hunting season has taken a significant toll on iconic members of Yellowstone’s gray wolf population, which has included the killing of five wolves that were wearing scientific research collars, including one that was arguably Yellowstone’s most popular wolf among staff and visitors, alpha female 832F. The loss of these ‘research wolves’ takes a significant toll on ongoing efforts park service efforts to monitor and study the wolf population. In response to this, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted 4-1 to put certain areas around Yellowstone off limits to wolf hunts in an effort to protect park wolves. While this is temporary, we are hopeful that the state commission will set in place a permanent area adjacent to Yellowstone that will protect park wolves that occasionally leave the park’s boundries.
“We applaud the commissioners for this action. Wolves are a well-established part of the economic engine of Yellowstone; a place that draws millions of visitors each year who spend money in our towns and want to see a wide variety of wildlife, including the gray wolf. Additionally, we urge Wyoming, which opened up hunting to gray wolves just this year, to also exercise caution in hunting these animals and use Montana’s situation as a lesson and create appropriate space around the park. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has the ability and duty to establish protected subunits around parks in Wyoming and greatly limit the take on wolves to ensure that both Grand Teton and Yellowstone wolf packs are better protected.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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