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Elk Plus Wolves Equals Fewer Elk,
But What Happens in the Future?

Letters to the Editor / Anchorage Daily News / January 14, 2005


Just the other day I picked up the June issue of Scientific American. There was an article that talked about the reintroduction of wolves back into the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem. At the beginning of this experiment Yellowstone National Park had a swelling elk population of more than 20,000 animals. The elk were overgrazing and overpopulating Yellowstone. Today there are fewer than 10,000 elk in Yellowstone. The wolf is credited for this animal control maneuver, and once again Yellowstone has a balanced wildlife population.

But now what? You do the math. In less than 10 years wolf numbers have grown 500 percent, and the elk numbers have declined 50 percent! What's on the horizon in the next 10 years? Now that the goal has been accomplished, do the wolves go on a diet or become vegetarians? You tell me!

This is not just about producing more moose and caribou, but about maintaining a balance for all.

Mike O'Connor  / Anchorage

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