After 15 years of wolves, Yellowstone reborn

Dr. William Ripple and colleague issue report that sees Park ecology improved in almost all ways-

Many of the people supporting wolf restoration to Yellowstone Park and the Rocky Mountains did so mostly on the basis of the favorable ecological changes expected, not because they were particularly enchanted with wolves. The article by Drs. Ripple and Beschta is filled with photos, graphs and tables giving the hard figures that describe the changes.

Here is an brief article about it. An ecosystem being transformed – Yellowstone 15 years after the return of wolves. Science Codex.

Here is the actual article. Ripple, W.J. and Beschta, R.L. Trophic cascades in Yellowstone: The first 15 years after wolf reintroduction Biological Conservation in press, 2012: doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.11.005.5. Pdf file.



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  1. Nancy Avatar

    +Many of the people supporting wolf restoration to Yellowstone Park and the Rocky Mountains did so mostly on the basis of the favorable ecological changes expected, not because they were particularly enchanted with wolves+

    And then there are some of us (living here) who didn’t get our “panties in a bunch” after years of living with wolves around. Seldom heard and seldom seen, unless of course/ and depending on/ stakeholder status – i.e. ranching or hunting interests.

    1. Nuria Avatar

      Many people who love to live surrounded by nature sometimes forget that they are the intruders. If you live by a canal, you have to expect alligators. If you live near a forest, you have to expect bears and wolves. I say to those, deal with it, they were there first. Where are the animals to go when we have encroached to far into their homes? Many times when I see articles about wolves and bears, the ones complaining the most are ranchers. Natural predators are part of nature. Humans continue to mess with the natural order of things, then complain when things go bad and wonder how we can fix it. Well, we shouldn’t have messed in the first place!

  2. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    As words here have not yet been discouraging, I’d just like to philosophically banter that we all probably have more concern for the well being of wildlife in general, and wolves in particular(must be because they are a continual lightning rod for discussion)than the animals themselves. Throughout history, wolves have had no one to speak for them. People are now willing to do so. Are there enough of “us” who think “robust” populations of wolves belong?

    One wonders, does the wolf even care? In the world in which we have so many demands pulling at our every string, the wolves seems an admirable animal that lives in the moment(as per recent studies). Do we care more than the wolf? Who knows.

    That said, to those who truly appreciate all things wild, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

    1. Rita K. Sharpe Avatar
      Rita K. Sharpe

      Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you,Immer.

    2. Doryfun Avatar


      “One wonders, does the wolf even care?” I would have to answer “no” on this one. That is, if one believes that only humans care what other humans think,(self -awareness) which is one of the hallmarks of what it is to be human, and differentiates us from other animals.

      I doubt aniamls contemplate philosophy and have a sophisticated value system (aside from social hierarchies), such as people do. Our human value system is what stirs the emotional juices and sets up antagonistic sides on that proverbial line in the sand. Zebra mussels are bad, small mouth bass are good. It is an invasive if we don’t like it, an introduction or reinstroduction if we do.

      That the wolf is such a lightning rod is perhaps because,as a predator they have a big impact to our human value system.

      So, yes. I think we do care more than does the wolf. And we should. Because, man, as top predator (on everything) has the biggest impact of all. So it is terribly important what we do with this significant responsibility.

      That there has finally been enough people to create a “tipping point” to even attempt to actually bring back various wildlife species speaks loudly to our own evolution in expanding policy directions. Never easy. Always up and down, ever changing situations out on the ground.

      My hope, is that the Occupy Movement, which has changed the national conversation, may be somewhat of a catalyst to help push our bigger environmental issues (the umbrealla covering everything) into a better perspective and more positive direction. (ya, I know, it is a big hope to ask for).

  3. Nancy Avatar

    Thanks for posting this topic Ralph.

    Spent this evening watching the DVD Yellowstone, Battle For Life. Incredible documentary for those that want a glimpse into the beauty & awe that is YNP.

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Kayla Avatar

    Ralph, Thanks for posting this article. Wonderful Article! Now I myself have been wandering around this Yellowstone Ecosystem now for over 30 years and have seen so many changes including both the ’88 Fires and this Reintroduction of the Wolf. The last few years have thought to myself in many aspects how wonderful and wild is the whole Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is now. Now I have seen bunches of Aspens coming up everywhere in the Thorofare the last some years. The one disagreement in the article is that I would also give credit to the ’88 fires also with besides just the reintorduction of the wolf.

  5. Elizabeth Avatar

    Does anyone know how wolf populations are affecting cougars in the ecosystem?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan