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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Yellowstone Park Environmental Protection Specialist, Jim Evanoff, retired last week........He wistfully opined about the 1995 Gray Wolf reintroduction in a talk he gave on Thursday

The rest of the wolf story

Brett French;billings
Retiring Yellowstone specialist offers insight to park

Yellowstone National Park’s wolf packs have been the subject of lots of media attention since their release into the park in 1995. Here, the alpha pair of Mollie’s pack is shown in October 2005.

The introduction of gray wolves from Canada into Yellowstone National Park was a national media sensation in 1995. It had been almost 70 years since the last wolf to live in the park had been killed, so the work was a controversial conservation story.

On April 27, I heard a new side to the historic event. Jim Evanoff, the park’s environmental protection specialist who retired on Thursday, was talking to a gathering at the Yellowstone Business Partnership in Red Lodge. Here, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story about that first shipment of wolves.

Airport exchange
Fearing a crush of journalists when the first 14 Canadian wolves were to arrive in Montana in mid-January 1995, the park’s staff leaked false information that the wolves were being flown into the Missoula airport, Evanoff said. The idea was to keep the event low-key to lessen the stress on the sedated animals.

The wolves had been placed in aluminum animal crates for the flight. At Bozeman, the Park Service backed up a goose-necked horse trailer and off-loaded the crates into the trailer for the ride to park headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo.

With law enforcement providing an escort, the group first had to detour to a gas station to fuel the truck towing the trailer. As a precaution, Evanoff said, he peeked into the horse trailer at the gas station to make sure the cages were intact. That’s when he saw one of the cage doors had been forced open and the wolf was gone. Frantically, he scanned the trailer looking for the animal. Then he saw its eyes glaring back from up in the gooseneck end of the trailer.

Apparently wolf No. 10, a male, had managed to escape his cage, breaking off its two canine teeth in the process. With no drugs to sedate the animal, the park staffers halted their fuel purchase and immediately struck out for Mammoth. They decided that should the wolf jump out of the trailer, it would have to be shot.

Strange twist
Luckily for the crew, that wasn’t necessary. They made it to Mammoth, pulled into a garage and had a biologist sedate the animal so it could be returned to its cage and transported to a fenced enclosure. The wolves were kept in fenced areas inside the park to acclimate them to their surroundings in the hope that they wouldn’t light out for Canada when released into Yellowstone.

Wolf No. 10, the original alpha male of the Rose Creek pack, did roam after his release. He sauntered to near Red Lodge with a female that gave birth to eight pups.
The same male wolf is now famous for being shot outside Red Lodge in April 1995. The man responsible for the shooting was caught and served jail time in addition to paying a fine.
Park paraphernalia

Evanoff’s talk to the group charted the history of Yellowstone and how its management has changed in the 140 years since it was created by Congress. Here are some other tidbits from his talk.
The roughly 3 million visitors a year to Yellowstone National Park arrive in about 1 million vehicles. The average visitor stays only 1.5 days.

Many years ago, to ensure more trout were available to anglers, park staff would go to Molly Island in Yellowstone Lake every spring and smash pelican eggs, because pelicans eat trout.
The single most complex job in Yellowstone, according to Evanoff, is removing snow from its roadways in the spring. The 12-week operation burns about 1,300 gallons of fuel a day and costs about $1 million.

Solar panels that were installed for a project at Mammoth Hot Springs only contributed 6 percent to the electricity use of the area, but because the panels were visible, people reduced their electricity consumption.

Yellowstone contains more than 2,000 bear-proof canisters for garbage that are emptied every day. When the garbage trucks are not being used they are parked behind a 10-foot-high fence. Forty percent of Yellowstone’s waste comes from food.

After realizing that hundreds of tiny shampoo bottles were tossed into the garbage from Yellowstone’s 2,000 hotel rooms every day, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which operates the park’s hotels, switched over to cornstarch-based bottles that are biodegradable.

“This is not a contractual demand,” Evanoff pointed out. “Xanterra has stepped up to do this.”
Don’t get Evanoff started on Coleman. The camping conglomerate wouldn’t help Evanoff in his attempt to find a way to recycle the steel propane canisters that campers use for their grills and lanterns and then toss in Yellowstone’s trash cans. So he raised grant money and found a Billings engineering company to create a $50,000 machine that drains any remaining gas — which is used to power the machine — and then punctures the cylinders so they can be recycled. Coleman later approached Evanoff to see if Yellowstone would endorse their new “key” system for expelling any excess gas from the canisters into the atmosphere. Their cost to roll out the key system, Evanoff said, was $685,000.

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