When humans play a role in animal extinction, do they have an obligation to try and reverse it? If so, what indicators should they use to determine success? In the 1990s, the federal government reintroduced the gray wolf into Yellowstone National Park in response to the decimation of the population via hunting. The population reached its goal levels by 2002, but introduced several complications in terms of politics and economics. What does the wolf population of Yellowstone look like now? Would the reintroduction effort still be considered a success?
Reintroducing Wolves to Yellowstone was a Success. That’s When Trouble Began.
In the 1990s, the federal government reintroduced the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park. It was considered a big success. And that’s when the real fight began.
Some call it one of the great conservation success stories of our time. After being nearly killed off, gray wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995.
Since then, the population has bounced back to more than 1,600 across the northern Rocky Mountains. But some say a protracted fight over whether the wolves remain endangered has had some unintended consequences.
Educators, click below for this video’s accompanying lesson plan and check out our Environmental Education Collection.
Students will learn about the reintroduction of the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park and explore whether humans have a role to play in ensuring that animals do not become endangered.
- Analyze data (past and present) on the wolf population of Yellowstone National Park
- Formulate an argument on the current state of the wolf population at Yellowstone that recognizes the economic, political, and scientific perspectives
- Identify factors that contribute to population stability
- What role do economics, politics, and science play in the classification of endangered species?
- How should humans respond to species extinction?
- How is population stability determined?
- Transcript for “Reintroducing Wolves to Yellowstone was a Success. That’s When Trouble Began.” (Retro Report)
- Yellowstone Wolf Project Reports (National Park Service)
- NPS Wolf Restoration (National Park Service)
- Isle Royale Wolf and Moose Populations (National Park Service)
- 1995 Proposed Amendments to the Endangered Species Act (United States Congress)
- National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework
- D2.Civ.7.6-8.Apply civic virtues and democratic principles in school and community
- D2.Eco.1.6-8.Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
- D3.1.6-8.Gather relevant information from multiple sources while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
- D18.104.22.168.Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
- D4.1.6-8.Construct arguments using claims and evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging the strengths and limitations of the arguments.
- D4.1.9-12.Construct arguments using precise and knowledgeable claims, with evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging counterclaims and evidentiary weaknesses.
- D4.4.6-8.Critique arguments for credibility.
- D4.4.9-12.Critique the use of claims and evidence in arguments for credibility.
- Next Generation Science Standards
- MS-LS2-1.Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
- MS-ESS3-3.Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
- HS-LS2-6.Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
- HS-LS2-7. Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics: Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
- AP Biology
- Big Idea 4:Systems Interactions
- AP Environmental Science
- Unit 3: Populations
- Big Idea 3:Interactions between different species and the environment (EIN)
- Big Idea 4:Sustainability (STB)