How Wolves DON’T Change Rivers

How Wolves DON'T Change Rivers
"Yes, you heard that right. The wolves that were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 have not restored the landscape. They have not brought back the aspens and willows. They have not brought back the beavers or the songbirds. And no, the rivers have not changed, either."
-JD King, Earth Rising Blog

If you have not yet read JD's full article, How Wolves Don't Change Rivers - click here - it is a must read. The article is in response to the viral video, below...

To sum it up, JD King spoke with Jim Beers[1] (former USFWS biologist) and Dr. Charles Kay[2] (wildlife biologist), both whom argue the claims made in the above video. “I just returned from Yellowstone National Park where I revisited many of my old research sites. Willows and aspen have grown taller at a few locations but there has not been any far reaching trophic cascade. The Lamar River and other streams have not recovered—in fact, the Lamar River in the Lamar Valley is worse than ever.” Dr. Kay.

This is not new news to biologists and conservationists, hunters of course included. These are facts that we have been, unsuccessful mind you, in reaching the general public but mostly the anti hunting and animal rights communities. Since the reintroduction of the wolves, the elk population alone has significantly dropped from an estimated 20,000 to less than 4,500. Dr. Kay also stated that moose numbers went from 1,000 to almost zero.

How Wolves DON'T Change RiversHow Wolves DON'T Change Rivers

He also speaks on the over population of Yellowstone's bison; because "the wolves have not changed the habits of the number one species that’s wreaking havoc on the valley’s meadows and riparian areas—the American bison. There are 3,500 bison in the Lamar pounding things into oblivion,” said Dr. Kay. According to National Park Service, Yellowstone:

  • Bison are killed because there are too many animals in too small a space. Yellowstone encompasses a limited amount of habitat and Montana only allows very limited numbers of bison in small areas adjacent to the park.
  • Allowing the bison population to grow indefinitely will cause overgrazing and possibly mass starvation of animals in Yellowstone, as well as larger migrations and greater conflict outside the park.
  • Yellowstone bison currently reproduce and survive at relatively high rates compared to many other large, wild, mammal species. The bison population increases by 10 to 17% every year (that’s ten times faster than the human population grows worldwide).
  • Currently, predation by bears and wolves has little effect on the bison population. Bison are massive animals that defend themselves as a group, making them more difficult to attack than animals such as elk.
  • For the winter of 2016/2017, IBMP members collectively decided to reduce the bison population. In order to accomplish this, 900 to 1,300 animals must be removed through hunting outside the park and capture/shipment to slaughter. According to Buffalo Field Campaign 1,302 bison were killed this 2016-2017 season.
  • [1] Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC.

    [2] Dr. Charles Kay received his Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from Utah State University, his M.S. in environmental studies from the University of Montana, and his B.S. in wildlife biology also from the University of Montana. Dr. Kay has conducted ecological research for Parks Canada, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Agricultural Research Service, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

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