Great wolf reintroduction conspiracy theory

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 19:31:39 09/06/16

In Reply to: Timber vs Canadian posted by Gracie


Unfortunately, there was little, if any sound science conducted in the study of wolves prior to their extirpation from the Northern Rockies in the early 1900s, so we have no solid proof of the exact genome of the wolves that populated Yellowstone specifically.

Timber wolves are pretty much a critter of the eastern side of North America near as I can tell. The remnant population is located primarily in northeastern Canada.

The "Canadian" wolves are actually spread across western Canada and Alaska.

There is minimal difference between the two subspecies, and what DNA research has been conducted on wolves in the Northern Rockies shows evidence of two genomic strains, both closely related to each other.

Be aware that numerous centers of wolf hatred in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming started propagating the fallacy that the NPS and USFWS collaborated to bring larger, more aggressive wolves to Yellowstone in 1995 and 1996 than the original wolves that populated the area. This dovetailed nicely with the belief that native wolves had somehow re-established themselves in Idaho without being descendants of wolves in western Canada (canid version of Immaculate Conception perhaps?).

The hard fact is that there is minimal difference between Canadian wolves and timber wolves. Much like the grizzly bear, AKA "brown bear" in Alaska, which features Yellowstone-sized bears in interior Alaska and twice-size coastal versions, due to the abundance of spawning salmon seasonally, it is entirely likely that wolves in the western U.S. AND Canada will vary somewhat in size in response to the (1) quality and (2) abundance of food. The devilish side of me is tempted to draw upon a comparison of corn-fed beef and grass-fed beef, but I won't go there.

Anyway, here is what the folks that orchestrated wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone did in selecting a source of wild wolves, and theoretically, it violated the most pure interpretation of natural regulation. They deliberately selected wolves in Canada (because there were no large populations of wild wolves available in the U.S.) that were known to prey regularly on bison. I'm not privy to their rationale. (1) It could have been a response to the cyclic slaughter of bison that wander outside the park in winter, due to the brucellosis issue. (2) It could have been motivated by a hunter-friendly bias toward preserving elk. (3) It could have been in recognition of the fact that elk migrate out of many portions of Yellowstone in winter, while bison still populate areas like Hayden Valley and Pelican Valley.

While most reintroduced wolves pigged out on the over-abundance of elk, the Mollie's Pack (formerly Crystal Creek Pack) migrated to Pelican Valley, where they have been making a living preying on bison in winter for many years.


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