Wolf Restoration

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In 1974, the gray wolf was placed on the endangered species list, but in Yellowstone National Park wolves had already been hunted for almost a hundred years, the last pack being killed off in 1926. In 1995, eight wolves were relocated from western Canada to Yellowstone, and in the next year, a total of thirty-one wolves were brought in (NPS, 2016). This was the start of what some may call one of the greatest wildlife restoration projects ever undertaken. Twenty years after the fact, Yellowstone is home to approximately 130 wolves (Missoulian, 2015).The economic effects of the returned presence of these animals has impacted both tourism and ranching in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
Based on a 2005 survey of park visitors conducted by economist
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The wolves have both use and existence value to park visitors and non-visitors alike. With varying results by season, up to 44% of respondents said they personally benefited from hearing or seeing the wolves (Duffield et al. 2005). Up to 66% said they received satisfaction from simply knowing that there were wolves present in Yellowstone. It’s no wonder that both the 1991 and 2005 surveys recorded nearly 70% support for wolf restoration in the park. Conversely, an increase in the wolf population correlates to a decrease in other big game populations such as elk, bison, and moose. Up to 61% of respondents indicated their park enjoyment would decrease with a reduction in these populations (Duffield et al, 2005). Elk populations in particular decreased by approximately 8% per year from 1995 to 2004 (Vucetich et al, …show more content…
In 2010, the Department of Agriculture conducted a study that estimated that only 2.3% of cattle deaths are caused by predators of any kind (Muhly and Musiani, 2009). Even so, there are compensation programs in place. Many of these programs are strict in their eligibility criteria to avoid a free rider problem, and 63% of ranchers in four rural communities near Yellowstone reported that they believed the verification standards were too strict (Duffield et al. 2005). Often confirmed damages are redeemed at full market value while probably damages are only redeemed at half the market value. This, however, only covers the meat value of the animal lost, not potential breeding value. The State of Wyoming actually pays more than market value for confirmed damages. There are also private compensation programs in place to mediate rancher attitudes towards wolves. Defenders of Wildlife, founded in 1987, has given out compensation payments to 225 ranchers totaling $270,000. Overall, the benefits of these programs appear to outweigh the costs. The director of the National Park Service in 1985, William Penn Mott, stated, “The single most important action conservation groups could take to advance Yellowstone wolf restoration would be to develop a fund to compensate ranchers for any livestock losses cause by wolves. Economics makes

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