Wolf interactions are typically rather rare as the species is pretty wary of human contact. The National Parks Service relies on trail cameras in order to study animal behavior and keep an eye on certain species, while still giving the animals their space and freedom to be wild animals. Actually, Yellowstone National Park installed nine such trail cameras in various positions spread across the park. Eight of them provide typical static video, while one actually live streams an iconic overlook of the Old Faithful Geyser. Now, Yellowstone has been home to some interesting situations: a publicly intoxicated kayaker, trespassers, and even homicide. This newest event captured by the park’s trail cams will surely impress. It involves a grey wolf and a trail cam.
The Yellowstone Standoff
Yellowstone estimates its wolf population at a steady 100 wolves from about 8 different packs. Footage of the wolves captured on trail cams isn’t exactly rare. The wolves typically don’t notice these cams spread throughout the park and just go about their wolf lives, hunting and sleeping, sleeping and hunting, with the occasional howl at the moon.
In a resurfaced clip from June, the Wildlife Protection Solutions shared a special moment caught on the cam to their YouTube channel. It shows a curious dark-colored wolf as it notices the trail cam and doesn’t know what to make of it. A pack howls in the distance as the lone wolf attempts to eat the Yellowstone trail cam at one point. It must not be tasty, because the wolf spits it out before reuniting with its pack. The video actually goes on to capture the entire pack’s movements, and several of the wolves come to investigate the strange device.
As wildfires continue to orphan animals in the West and livestock find themselves stranded in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the Yellowstone cams offer a brilliant reminder of how precious wildlife can be.
What Lies Ahead for the Wolves?
Recently, Montana and Idaho passed some controversial hunting and trapping policies designed to reduce gray wolf populations around the Yellowstone region. This concerns many citizens, including Mike Phillips. Along with Ted Turner, founder of CNN, Phillips helped create the Turner Endangered Species Fund. Together, their conservations efforts are aimed towards helping as many endangered species as possible worldwide. In talking to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle Phillips revealed:
“We don’t make promises we can’t keep, we don’t give a hoot about fanfare, we are very steady on our feet … and we are patient. We are determined to be something other than trivial. We recognized the need for wolf recovery to go forward even though it was difficult.”
The duo is responsible for reviving Yellowstone’s wolf population and has been since the 90s. Recently, Phillips actually received The Wildlife Society’s Aldo Leopold Memorial Award for his conservation efforts. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle calls it the highest honor bestowed by the international nonprofit association.
In light of the recently passed laws, a handful of conservation groups are backing Phillips. Many find themselves petitioning the federal government to grant wolves Endangered Species Act protections.
“The diversity of life is a reflection of everything that’s alive trying to stay one step ahead of death,” Phillips said. “Death has to matter almost as much as living or as life. Consequently, predators have to matter.”