For more than 60 years the howl of the wolf was silenced in Yellowstone. As settlers moved into the U.S. West, wolves killed their cattle and sheep, so killing wolves was everyone’s civic duty. The government paid for wolf pelts, and trappers baited buffalo carcasses with strychnine and turned in thousands of pelts. In Yellowstone, ocial policy condoned extermination of the wolf until 1926.
Finally things began to turn around for the wolves. After extensive debate and planning, 14 wolves were trapped in Alberta, Canada in midwinter 1995 and 17 in British Columbia in 1996. They were brought to the park, kept for a few weeks in specially constructed pens, and then released. A 1997 experimental release of10 young wolves from a northwestern Montana pack that had been preying on livestock was not as successful, since only two of them survived into adulthood. But most of the originally relocated wolves have thrived. They have dispersed into neighboring parts of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and formed new packs. Over 30 packs lived in the area by 2004.
Zoologists continue to watch Yellowstone’s wolves closely. Each winter teams travel by air to anesthetize and attach radio collars to as many wild wolves as possible at least one from each pack. Then they follow the packs’ movements throughout the year.