Wolves in Yellowstone

I’ve dreamed of hearing wolves howl my entire life. I know I’m not alone in that. The ridge line covered with high-powered cameras and telescopes was evidence enough. My daughter and I saw it first.

Out from a knoll across the valley jumped a black canine form. It leaped several bounds down the slope before one then a third and another followed. A friend found out there was an elk carcass behind the mound. They ripped off portions to carry back to the den a mile away beneath sweeps of rain and blue-gray storm clouds. With a tenacity you’d expect, the pack paced the full length of the valley. As they trotted, the first flank wolf fended off bison 10 times its size that got too close.

I’ve written about Living with a Wolf. And wolves are still the most controversial wildlife in the American landscape. In the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska Fish & Game has killed so many wolves the National Park Service can no longer monitor them (click to read more). In the Arizona and New Mexico Southwest, Fish & Wildlife mismanagement has compromised the future of wolves there (click to read more). Even in Yellowstone National Park, I listened as a ranger commented snidely that scientists decided to put wolves in the park. It was his tone that belied his bias.

But here we all sat, chatting with excitement over what we were witnessing. Then someone heard it! They listened to be sure and grabbed the arm of the person beside them. Listen! The reality of what we heard became clear. We shushed others nearby. The wolves were howling! We could hear them howling at their den!

And for us, it was the angels of Yellowstone themselves, singing aloud.

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