Wolf hunting could threaten research

Hunters have been killing gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains in numbers not seen since the animals were driven to near extinction in the continental United States in the 20th century. Science Magazine reports in their latest issue that the killing of more than 500 wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming in recent months, including nearly 20% of the wolves that sometimes range outside of Yellowstone National Park—threatens to undermine a long-term Yellowstone research project that has produced influential findings on how wolves help shape ecosystems.


The article goes on to say researchers and conservation groups are calling on government officials to rethink the hunts, which have eliminated about 16% of the wolves living in the three states. It quotes wildlife biologist Doug Smith of the National Park Service who leads the park’s wolf restoration and study project as saying, “We had in Yellowstone one of the best models for understanding the behaviors and dynamics of a wolf population unexploited by humans.” Now, he told the publication, researchers will “do what we can to keep the science going—what we have left of it.”

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