Gray wolf reintroduction and subsequent recovery is considered one of the world’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories. However, over the past decade federal Endangered Species Act protections have been stripped from wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming — states that share a border with Yellowstone National Park. While wolves are protected within Yellowstone, wolves following prey across park boundaries are in danger of being killed by trophy hunters. Because park boundaries are unmarked and have no physical barriers, it is impossible for wolves to be fully contained inside the park where they are safe. Yellowstone’s wolves acclimate to the presence of park visitors from when they are pups, so they don’t differentiate between park visitors who admire them and hunters who prey upon them.
Video credit: Yellowstone National Park; b-roll footage/NPS video
In 2021, Montana legislators passed a series of bills designed to reduce the state’s wolf population by as much as 85%. After the bills were signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte, Montana wildlife managers adopted a myriad of options for hunters and trappers to kill wolves, including allowing baiting right up to the Yellowstone National Park boundary. The quotas of one wolf each in Montana Wolf Management Units 313 and 316 (WMUs 313 and 316) right outside the northern boundary and adjacent to the park were removed — making it open season on Yellowstone wolves setting paw in Montana, and they suffered tragic consequences.
The loss of the Yellowstone wolves “is a huge setback,” says wildlife biologist Doug Smith of the National Park Service, who leads the park’s wolf restoration and study project, which began in 1995. “We had in Yellowstone one of the best models for understanding the behaviors and dynamics of a wolf population unexploited by humans.”
Caught in the crossfire (Chart below)
During the 2021-2022 wolf hunting season, hunters in states bordering Yellowstone National Park (YNP) killed many more wolves that used the park than in previous seasons.
Yellowstone National Park offers us an opportunity to know wolves living life free and wild in their natural habitat. We must never be silent for 06, 926F, 10M, 1155M, Canyon Alpha Female and all the other beloved Yellowstone wolves who are killed by humans simply for existing. We must be a voice for all wolves in America.
Lamar Valley wolf pup loses his way and is rescued by an old wolf. Introduces younger readers to the magic of Yellowstone. 2013 (ages 9-12)
With beautiful illustrations, explains how wolves restored the Yellowstone ecosystem. 2020 (ages 9-12)
The complete geneological record of each wolf reintroduced to Yellowstone.. The book includes each wolf's story and documents their family tree beginning in Canada. Detailed information is provided on how to access the interactive family tree stored on Ancestry.com. 2020
The story of the thirty-one Canadian gray wolves released into Yellowstone National Park in 1995-1996. Smith, with Yellowstone Wolf Project since inception, tells the story from an insider’s view. 2005
The story of wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone and how the ecosystem was magically restored. An excellent resource for classrooms studying ecology. 2021 (ages 7-12)
Vivid portrait of the wolves of Yellowstone. Bullin writes from personal experience as a Yellowstone Guide and Wildlife Filmmaker. 2020
A personal narrative of three winters living in a remote corner of Yellowstone to observe wolves. Lamplugh immersed himself into the wilderness to watch, listen and learn. 2013
Photographic chronical of author Dance's account of his year long stay in Yellowstone. Includes a true story of a young black wolf's struggle to survive in Yellowstone's northern range. 2006
A New York Times Notable Book on the wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone including the details of the wolves lives and all the politics behind it all. 1997
The Yellowstone Wolf Project Field Biologist details the plight of wolves in America. He discusses wolf reintroduction in National Parks and includes a section on the first year of the return of wolves to Yellowstone. 1996
Biologist explains Yellowstone Wolf Project and the positive effects of the reintroduction of wolves. 2017 (ages 9-12)
The persecution, almost extinction, and return of wolves to Yellowstone. 2008 (ages 3-8)
Project Leaders Phillips and Smith tell the story of Yellowstone wolf reintroduction from the inside including public relations, capture, relocation, acclimation, release and tracking. Includes moving essays along with over 70 color photos. 1996
Anthology of documents related to the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone including environmental impact and wolf movement tracking reports. Forward penned by Bruce Babbitt. 1996
Halfpenny, a scientist and educator, reviews the success of the wolf reintroduction experiment in Yellowstone. He provides details of each wolf with beautiful photographs and lineage charts. 2003
The New York Times calls the reintroduction of the wolf to Yellowstone “arguably the world’s greatest wildlife experiment.” Assembled by three of the biologists who studied the wolves return, the book provides a wealth of scientific research and includes essays from every wolf biologist in America today. 2020
The award winning nature writer beautifully tells the story of how wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone.
The epic story of 21M and 42F is documented, with footage and production by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Bob Landis. Popular Yellowstone wolf 302M (Casanova) makes an appearance in this film.