HOWL Colorado

Human-introduced disease devastating Yellowstone’s wolf population

Less than two decades after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park, viral diseases like mange threaten the stability of the new population.

Humans had killed off gray wolves in the region by the 1930s, but in 1995, U.S. wildlife officials tried to restore the native population by bringing 31 wolves captured from Canada into the national park.

The new wolf community initially expanded rapidly, climbing to more than 170 at its peak. But researchers from Penn State University say that the most recent data show the number of animals has dipped below 100.

“We’re down to extremely low levels of wolves right now,” researcher Emily S. Almberg, a graduate student in ecology, said in a statement. “We’re down to [similar numbers as] the early years of reintroduction. So it doesn’t look like it’s going to be as large and as a stable a population as was maybe initially thought.”

Read the entire article on livescience.com: Yellowstone Wolves Hit by Disease

It is particularly sad to note that the mange found hurting today’s wolf population was introduced more than 100 years ago to Yellowstone by humans seeking to damage the wolf population. Scientists think the disease sustained itself in other canid species such as coyote or foxes.

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