Yellowstone DIary 2019

July 17, 2019 The influence of tourists on wildlife

Yellowstone National Park is overrun with tourists. More than it can handle and it shows. Unfortunately tourists excited about seeing wildlife but with no understanding of the animals they are so exuberantly trying to see may hurt wildlife. There are road kills where people bring their impatient city driving habits to the park and end of killing wildlife.

Also by not understanding the complexities of the animals they are viewing they can harm them.

There is a kill near the road that is attracting bears and wolves who need the food. One wolf is collar number 1109 a female with puppies. Sometime in the last few weeks she was hurt and is limping badly. This is a critical problem for her because she needs to feed he puppies. But she can’t hunt with her leg damaged. So the freen food of the kill can make a huge difference in her survival and the survival of her pups.

The park service has regulations they publish about how far a tourist must remain away from different animals primarily for the tourists safety. But different animals have a very different tolerance for the proximity to people. Coyotes have lived with humans for ever but even though they are hunted and posioned mercilessly they have learned to live around people. Wolves on the other hand do not tolerate humans in close proximity.

The Lamar Vally is about 1.5 miles wide. On the south side there is the Lamar river and on the north side is the Beartooth highway. The wolves are used to there being humans on the road and the wolves tend to stay on the south side beyond the river.  Most people tend to stay on the road and that is good because the wolves need the space.

But in the case of todays kill there are people moving off the road to get as close a look as possible of the wolves on the kill. This is very unfortunate for wolf 1109 becuase even though that free food might make the difference for her and her pups she is too afraid of the people off the road, to go to the kill to eat.

Eventually, early in the morning, she got some food from the kill. Who knows if it was enough.