WOLVES OF YELLOWSTONE: STEWARDS OF MOTHER EARTH
We often hear stories about catastrophic results when man tries to play God and messes with nature. This video about the Yellowstone National Park may change your mind about it. It shows that man can sometimes successfully co-create with Mother Earth. Instead of catastrophic, in this case the result was a “trophic cascade.”
(“Trophic cascades” are powerful indirect interactions that can control entire ecosystems. Trophic cascades occur when predators limit the density and/or behavior of their prey and thereby enhance survival of the next lower trophic level.)
We’ve all heard about the “big bad wolf,” the “sheep in wolves clothing,” or the sweet little Bambi’s. Such fairy tales give the wolves a bad rap, and ironically glorify the animals even man kills for food (think venison, lamb chops).
Obviously, the wolves could use a better marketing agent. Walt Disney and the rest of the Hollywood crowd got it all wrong.
Because the facts are on the side of the wolves. Little Bambis’ grow up into big deer whose eating habits are positively destructive to the environment. We have even seen examples of that here at the Rainbow Shower in Maui. They killed several of our trees, including a beautiful Jacaranda and Kukui, the Hawaii State Tree.
By contrast, the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone in 1995, after a 70-year absence, rejuvenated the entire ecology in the Park. The wolves even helped change the flow or rivers.
So it looks like the wolves finally got a good ad agency, one that works on facts not Hollywood fiction. This short video, wonderfully scripted and filmed on location in Yellowstone is 100% based on scientific truth. After you watch it, you may change your mind about the “big bad wolves” and the “sweet little Bambis.” It’s actually the other way around.
* * *
UPDATE DEC 30, 2015
HOW MAN INTRODUCED DEADLY DISEASE TRYING TO ERADICATE WOLVES FROM YELLOWSTONE
CHRISTMAS WITH THE WOLVES OF YELLOWSTONE
He came over to the Lamar Canyon group from the Prospect Peak Pack (and the 8-Mile Pack before that), and still travels back to see his Prospect family from time to time.
He is suffering badly from mange right now, so send him your good thoughts for a full recovery. (Mange was introduced by humans into the ecosystem in the 1920s to eradicate the Wolf and Coyote populations.) — at Round Prairie, Yellowstone National Park.
Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious canine skin disease caused by mites that burrow into the skin causing infections, hair loss, severe irritation and an insatiable desire to scratch. The resulting hair loss and depressed vigor of an infected animal leaves them vulnerable to hypothermia, malnutrition and dehydration, which can eventually lead to death.
Mange was introduced into the Northern Rockies in 1909 by state wildlife veterinarians in an attempt to help eradicate local wolf and coyote populations. Scientists believe the troublesome mite that causes the disease persisted among coyotes and foxes after wolves were exterminated.
Since their reintroduction into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1995-96, wolves appeared to be free of mange until 2002. As of March 2014, 2 of 8 known packs in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) have mange, mostly in the Northern Range, and the prevalence within a pack ranges from 25 to 60%.