A truck arrived in Yellowstone Park on Jan. 12, 1995 carrying eight gray wolves from Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. They became the first wolves to roam Yellowstone since the 1920s when the last pack was killed. By the end of 1996, 31 wolves were relocated to the park.
American Wolf, by Neil Blakeslee, brings two very different points of view into focus to see the impact of the reintroduction of wolves; always a political problem with the hunters and ranchers on one side, and those who loved the wolves on the other.
Rick McIntyre is a biologist who spent much of his life in this part of the country recording wolf sighting, and what took place in their lives, every day for 15 years. Many wolves had special tracking collars and McIntyre’s detailed daily notes presented an insightful look into the lives of the wolves. One female wolf, labeled as 832F, was better known to tens of thousands of people as #06 and what we learn about her comprises one side of the issues presented in this book.
To present the other side of the issues the author interviewed many of the hunter’s and also included a lot of detail on the political issues that took place into trying to stop the introduction.
It was intended that the Elk population would be reduced with wolf’s introduction, but much more happened when that happened, and many felt that the wolves saved the park.
The wolves also changed the coyote population which increased the rodent population, which increased bird population.
The streams changed with increase in beaver population, due to more feed being available , since the Elk, being more cautious, were spending less time in the low valleys.
06 was a big, barrel-chested alpha female whose home was in the Lamar Canyon Pack part of the park where she led a strong pack. Rick McIntyre’s notes and knowledge had made this wolf world famous with crowds coming to the park to just get a look at here.
The author interviewed the man that shot 06. He was a dedicated hunter using the new open hunting season that, after political battles, had opened up near the park. He was proud of his kill and had 06 pelts hanging on the wall of his home. A few weeks earlier, 06’s pack mate, a beta male was shot and killed in Wyoming as well.
The killing of 06 set off a firestorm of controversy about the collision between wildlife management, science, and hunting that occurs at the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. The killing led to concerns over whether hunters used the GPS signals to go after these particular wolves.
The collars cost the government $4,000 each providing valuable information over the 17-year study providing invaluable research. 06, her pack mate, and 2 other wolves with collars were shot in the Lamar area along with 10 others near the park borders of which 5 of those also wore collars.
In a story that so clearly shows how important the correct balance in nature is, and which detailed so much about the lives of the wolves, this book is well worth reading.