You might have heard that Yellowstone National Park had to partially close last summer due to extreme flooding. The great news is Yellowstone is about to reopen, especially Lamar Valley which is prime habitat for gray wolves! And, since visitors to the area have been few and far between lately, the wolf populations are wandering more freely and are so much easier to spot. This return is just in time for the December and early 2023 dates for our Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolf & Wildlife Safari! There may never be another year when wolf packs are as active or as visible as they will be this winter. We highly recommend you secure your spots!
And there’s another reason to see the wolves this winter: wolf protection in the region is directly tied to the economic influence of ecotourism. Your visit means resources can be earmarked to further protect this special population.
Wolves weren’t always present in this part of Yellowstone. When Yellowstone was created as a National Park in 1872, no protection was provided for wolves and other predators and government predator control programs soon all but wiped out Yellowstone’s wolf population. The last wolves were killed in Yellowstone in 1926. Scientists confirmed wolf populations had been eliminated from Yellowstone throughout the mid-20th Century.
Starting in the 1940’s, biologists, conservationists and environmentalists started a campaign to reintroduce the gray wolf to Yellowstone. They saw how the habitat was severely impacted by the lack of these top predators. Willow stands were decimated by elk without these fast predators to keep them on the move. Beavers who need willow stands as a main food source saw their populations dwindle. It wasn’t until the 1973 Endangered Species Act that the way was made clear to reintroduce the wolf. And it still took a while!
When wolves were first reintroduced in January 1995, biologists and park rangers were astonished by what they call a “cascading effect” or a trickle down effect that has positively impacted the entire park. Elk are on the move, keeping them from destroying willow stands. In 1995, there was only one beaver colony in the park. Now there are nine!
Wolves are also considered food distributors in this system. Winters are warming and that has meant fewer elk dying from cold which left fewer carcasses for scavengers. Now that wolves have returned, scavengers that once relied on winter-killed elk for food now depend on wolf-killed elk. Park officials and scientists are amazed by the system-wide impact the return of wolves has had on the health of this land. A time has finally arrived when wolves can receive the respect they’re due.
Are you interested in seeing this remarkable landscape and these extraordinary creatures for yourself? Contact us and we’ll find a date that works for you on our Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolf & Wildlife Safari. Witnessing the beauty and cunning of these legendary predators in their currently expanded and more visible conditions, will offer you an unforgettable wildlife encounter.