The Reintroduction and Recovery of the Gray Wolf in The Northern Rocky Mountain Region




Johnston, JoAnn

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My thesis topic covers gray wolf recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountain region in the last decade. Gray wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in 1995, by way of the Endangered Species Act, and significantly changed the ecology of the park, restoring aspen trees, healthy streams, and re-establishing a balance in the ecosystem. These changes were good, and healthy changes for the ecosystem, but caused significant stress for farmers and ranchers in the surrounding area. After approximately 13-15 years, the gray wolf population had grown exponentially and the process of removing them from the Endangered Species List (ESL) began. After removal from the ESL, wolves were under state management for the first time ever. However, state management is not necessarily supportive of gray wolf recovery, and puts their population in danger of extirpation again. There were and are several political issues surrounding gray wolf recovery, and my thesis seeks to describe the cultural attitude toward gray wolves, in order to provide a framework with stakeholders to create a state management plan that supports both stakeholders and wolves.