It was March 17th 1971. I had just finished lunch at School and the Superintendent came and told me our home had burned down and all was lost . We had what was on our backs no insurance nothing ! Three feet of snow on the ground. But by nightfall we had a house to live in and enough clothes food dishes etc.. to literally fill a semi truck . All of it was donated by the local community . I mean everyone chipped in and even folks that may of had a disagreement with the family. That is the way I remember growing up here . Just because you disagreed with someone did not mean you needed to hate them ! This brings me to the topic of wolves . Nothing has polarized this small community more than wolves . I can remember when the talk of introducing them or reintroducing , depends on what you believe, was first started . We all thought it was a long way off and that it would take decades to reach the delisting goal . The town meetings were filled with mostly people who hated the thought of wolves put back where they had already been removed. In 1995 after the first lot had been turned loose we had an Outfitter meeting in Mammoth at the YACC center . Mike Phillips the wolf biologist who spoke about the wolves said when they reached their goal of so many breeding pairs and moved into the surrounding states that they would be another species that we could hunt . We had the very popular late elk season then as I spoke of before . He said and I quote” there would be a 10 per cent at the most 15 per cent reduction in the late elk hunt . We all thought wow the hunters can live with that , the cafes and motels and gas stations can live with that . He also said , somewhat wryly , after they are established I will be looking for work . Whenever you come into a area that has a tradition steeped in hunting fishing livestock etc.. and tell them one thing and its not working out that way we become very suspicious real quick! We have hunted , fished , trapped , photographed these animals for generations and to change a lifestyle in one generation is a hard pill to swallow ! Most of these elk spend about 6 months in YNP and the rest in Montana Wyoming Idaho . So to be fair I believe that when they are on National Park land they belong to YNP and the people and laws of the Park system . When in the Stare they belong to the State and its laws and people of the US.I read recently about how if someones horse gets out and goes to the neighbors its still their horse . [Although Ive been known to be quick with a branding iron. Just joking ] That is like saying if an elk born in Montana and goes to YNP he is a MT elk . Cannot work that way . We were also told that they had enough wolves in YNP to study that the few who trickled over would be the States wolves and could be managed as such . I spoke earlier about the winter range not being adequate for the elk of the northern herd .I believe since 1986 the following pieces of property was purchased or used mostly for winter range . The Rigler ranch at Dailey lake and Slip and slide. The OTO ranch on cedar creek. The Hayes ranch Phelps creek . The Johnson property bear creek. Point of Rocks ranch is used for winter range no cows Many pieces of small parcels were bought across the river from Point of Rocks and is now winter range . Much of the Cut property is now in use for winter range . I believe that proves it could easily support 11000 elk in the northern herd . Which is what many Park biologists have been saying for years . I know that there is more properties in the valley that I have missed but you can see my point . I very rarely meet a person that doesent have strong feelings one way or the other toward wolves . But one thing I do know is that we need elk to hunt and the wolves need elk to hunt . My livelyhood depends on this and now many lively hoods depend on photographing the wolf in YNP. I havent checked the numbers this year but the elk calves are more numerous along the northern border than in previous years . Which I find very encouraging . I am a person who studies something until I figure it out or it drives me crazy . So I will have 2 more posts on this subject but will end with this for today. Knowing what you know now would the advocates of introduction or reintroduction put wolves back into YNP? We ,taxpayers, brought them from a happy home in Canada to America where they knew nothing about cars, tourists to habituate them , hunters to shoot them , trappers to trap them , ranchers to kill them , In a crowded enviroment where they killed themselves , where in the early years of YNP they introduced mange to the coyotes to control their numbers. The wolves are doing wolf things that comes natural to them . Doug Smith said its a grand experiment on a TV special . Grand ? I wonder if most looked in the mirror would they admit Selfish experiment? I actually feel sorry for the wolves that were brought down and put into an ecosystem that is not big enough and never will be! Anthropomorphizing the wolf is a shame and takes the wild out of any animal.
– Warren Johnson