Oct 16, 2014

Valley of the Wolves: Yellowstone Park and the Gray Wolf

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone Park
Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful areas in the United States visited by thousands of visitors each year from around the globe. It is a place to see magnificent animals of the wild from the chipmunks to the Great Bison and magnificent elk and moose to the ferocious Grizzly Bear.

It is a place to hike, go on horseback trail rides, and camp for days enjoying nature at its finest and strangest with the famous geysers and natural hot springs; going on outdoor adventurous trips like Teddy Roosevelt did back in the 19th century.
When Yellowstone Park was created in 1872, the Gray Wolf (Canus lupus) population was already in decline in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Also known as the timber wolf, true wolf, or western wolf, it is indigenous to North America, Eurasia, and North Africa. 
Lamar Valley Gray Wolf
It is distinguished, like the Red Wolf, by its size and less pointed features of the ears and muzzle. It has a winter fur that is long and bushy, predominately mottled gray; although white, red, or brown to black colors also occur.
The Gray Wolf is a specialized hunter, choosing large prey when in packs, but feasting upon smaller prey like rodents. They are known for their advanced expressive behavior. It is related to smaller Canis species like the Eastern Wolf, Coyote, and Golden Jackal. Only humans and tigers pose a threat to the Gray Wolf or competing wolf packs.
Grey Wolves share their environment with bears, fox, coyote, beaver, bison, elk, mule deer, Big Horn sheep, Lynx, Mountain Lion, the Golden and Bald eagles and even the Moose. As the wolf population grew the coyote and fox population thinned out, being chased away by wolf packs.
Males weigh between 100 to 130 pounds; females weight 80 to 110 pounds with an average lifespan of about 5 years, but living up to 12 years in the wild.
Gibbon River supports local wildlife
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem contains 400 to 450 wolves. Reintroduction was introduced most markedly when the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was passed; but not without controversy and surprise of the results by scientists and park rangers - amazed how wolves have helped the general Yellowstone ecology since their comeback, as is shown in the following video:
When the park was created during the life of Theodore Roosevelt, and avid hunter and outdoorsman who would become the 26th President of the United States and noted for his adventures in the Dakota Territory of the 19th century; co-author of the book, Hero Tales from American History
During his administration new national parks were created and Teddy Roosevelt became known for his protection of those parks, including Yellowstone.
The Gray Wolf was the first animal and only large carnivore that became domesticated by humans. This phenomenon dates as far back as 32,000 years ago.
The wolves of Yellowstone prey mostly upon hooved animals, their diet being 90% elk and bison in winter, deer in summer with a variety of smaller mammals like beaver and rodents (rabbits and field mice).
The Gray Wolf mates in February giving birth in the spring (April). Young emerge from the den at after 10 to 14 days and remains in the area of the den for from 3 to 10 weeks.
After a successful recovery, wolves are now managed by Yellowstone Park officials. See annual Wolf Project Report of 2013.

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