The debate over whether or not to introduce wolves into Yellowstone National Park has been waged for decades. Recently, it has been thrown into overdrive with the addition of a new point of contention: to let the bison roam or not to let the bison roam? “The Battle for Yellowstone” by Justin Farrell chronicles the debate and is slated for release early this year.
Farrell postulates that the two debates are linked and rooted in something deeper than an economic/environmental concern. Pro-wolf scientists and biologists argue that the facts speak for themselves: introducing wolves into Yellowstone in the mid-1990s did wonders for the health of the environment by evening out elk populations and increasing tourism. Anti-wolf advocates of the time maintained that releasing wolves would negatively impact cattle ranchers in the surrounding area.
However, after spending two years interviewing both sides, Farrell discovered that pro-wolf biologists often spoke almost spiritually of the importance of restoring “balance” and “wholeness” to the park. The same was true of bison activists, who could be heard declaring their love for the animals, as well as quite personal promises of protection.
On the other side, anti-wolf and anti-bison advocates often turned down remuneration, stating that though economically they may suffer as wolves thin out cattle and bison bring disease that could also thin out herds, it was an issue of taming nature.
What we have is therefore not a scientific debate of benefits and consequences, but a deeper rooted issue of what is fundamentally right or wrong. The lines are drawn between those trying to live in harmony with the park and those trying to tame it a la the Old West.
Keep an eye out for Farrell’s new book and for all of your Yellowstone National Park updates, keep up with our blog. For tours, contact Yellowstone Safari Company today!