CRE – Isabella Oliveira – Article Wolf 1
Grey wolves were nearly extinct in North America, which led to their restoration. In 1995 and 1996
Grey wolves were kept in the Yellowstone National Park so that they could reproduce. However, their
low number of packs increased over the years and their primary prey “elk” suffered a great change in
Before the restoration of the wolves, the elk numbers were close to carrying capacity. Therefore,
without enough predators the Elk population would surpass carrying capacity and degrade the
environment. However, the elk number decrease a great amount following the wolf restoration. Around
608 northern Yellowstone elk were killed by wolves in 1995-2002, estimating 35% were males and
65% were females. In the pre-wolf years 1986-1996 the elk population was roughly 15,000 – 19,000. In
1998, post wolf years the elk population decreased to 12,000. And it continued to decrease throughout
the years adding up to roughly 8,335 elk count in 2004.
Overall, the restoration of wolves has influenced the 50% decrease in the elk population. Wolves have a
very rapid reproduction rate and high kill rates regardless the count of elk in Yellowstone. Wolves have
also adapted to other preys like the bison. However, if something is not done to prevent the elk
population count it will continue to decrease and they will soon be extinct in the Yellowstone area. Park
managers should efficiently create alternative ways to increase elk reproduction and survival rates.
Better management of wolf to elk ratio so that it can be stable.