Enviros celebrate 10th anniversary of wolf release

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, an area from which they were eradicated by the 1920s. The transplant experiment, meant to help restore wolf populations protected under the Endangered Species Act, stirred strong feelings, both positive and negative, in 1995, and much of that controversy lives on today. While ranchers say their livestock suffers — the wolves killed 278 cattle and some 800 sheep in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho from 1995 to 2003 — biologists and wildlife activists say the reintroduction has benefited whole ecosystems. The 900-some wolves now thriving in the area may have helped bolster other populations, including aspen and cottonwood trees, beavers, and possibly songbirds and red foxes. The wolves’ success story is an important one, say enviros like Mike Phillips of the Turner Endangered Species Fund: “In many ways it has stimulated a dialogue that’s good for the country and the western United States.”