Yellowstone is one of the best places in the world to see wolves in the wild.
When Yellowstone National Park was first set up in 1872, it had no controls on hunting for predators such as wolves, who were being targeted by local ranchers for extermination with government support. By the late 1920s, the last gray wolf (Canis lupus) had been shot in the park, although rare sightings continued of animals passing through.
In 1995, a program to reintroduce the wolf saw the release of 14 into the Lamar Valley, all captured from various packs in Canada. By early 2012, there were around 100 hunting in ten packs and this seems to be a stable number, as determined by the population of elk, their main prey.
It was hoped that the wolves would take down the bison that are overabundant in the park but 90 per cent of all wolf kills are still elk. Wolves gorge themselves when they make a kill and can then go hungry for days, or even weeks – with 14 days being recorded. A typical pack of six animals, consisting of an alpha male, an alpha female and their offspring, will eat the equivalent of two adult elk and a small deer every month.
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