News June 9, 2020

Wolf Gets Close to Tourists

by Jackson Hole Radio News

The Billings Gazette reported last week that a Missouri family consisting of a husband, wife and three children who were picnicking in Yellowstone National Park had a surprise encounter with a wolf that got too up close and personal. The VanZant family had selected a table at a scenic pull-out in Hayden Valley where they could watch a fisherman nearby. As the fisherman prepared to move on, they saw a canine roaming the area and quickly decided it was not a dog. The wolf was a respectable distance away but soon popped up about 10 yards away. The Billings newspaper article quotes the family as saying the wolf then jumped over a log and began running right at them, and didn’t stop until it was about five feet away. The story goes on that the wife picked up rocks and sticks and began throwing them at the wolf to drive it away. Her husband then picked up a large branch and used it to drive the wolf away from the family. It was then they retreated to their truck and the wolf moved on. A Park biologist told the Gazette the experience is extraordinarily rare and the wolf was probably a curious youngster from the Wapiti Lake Pack. Normally, the park urges people to stay 100 yards away from wolves. Rangers plan to use aversive conditioning to discourage this wolf from approaching park visitors again.