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Twentieth Anniversary of Wolf Reintroduction in Yellowstone: Original Wolf Team Gathers to Celebrate Success


January 12, 2015

Contact: Melanie Gade, Defenders of Wildlife, mgade@defenders.org (202) 771-0288


Twentieth Anniversary of Wolf Reintroduction in Yellowstone: Original Wolf Team Gathers to Celebrate Success

GARDNER, Mont. – Conservationists, wildlife biologists and National Park employees – all members of the original team that helped reintroduce gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park twenty years ago – today returned to the park to celebrate one of this country’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories.


On January 12, 1995, eight wolves were relocated to Yellowstone National Park by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service personnel.  Another six wolves arrived one week later. The goal was to restore balance to a landscape where wolves had been absent for more than 70 years. These original 14 Yellowstone wolves – along with naturally returning packs and wolves subsequently released in 1995 and 1996 –were the first generations of today’s wolf population in the Northern Rockies. Twenty years later, Yellowstone continues to serve as an exceptional living laboratory to research the effects of wolf reintroduction and the profound benefits this apex predator has on the natural world.


Several key reintroduction team members were present at today’s celebration and issued the following statements:


“Wolves are a major part of Yellowstone and they have contributed significantly to the ecological and economic health of the Park,” said Doug Smith, current project leader for the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project in Yellowstone National Park. “The goal of the Park Service is to restore natural conditions and we could not have done that in Yellowstone without wolf restoration. Another goal of the Park Service is to provide for visitor’s enjoyment and today, Yellowstone is the best place in the world to view wild wolves.”


“The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone and central Idaho was a milestone in the history of wildlife conservation in America,” said Suzanne Stone, USA-Canadian wolf capture and transportation team member and Defenders of Wildlife’s Senior Northwest Representative and wolf expert. “Against all political odds, we helped bring back a living icon of the West that had been eradicated from most of its range in the lower 48 states.  It was the ultimate expression of America’s renewed commitment to wildlife stewardship and protection of our natural resources for future generations.”


“Wolf recovery in Yellowstone and the entire Northern Rockies region has been a phenomenal success,” said Carter Niemeyer, USA-Canadian wolf reintroduction team member; retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery coordinator for Idaho. “Wolves are here to stay and it is my hope and desire that the states that now manage America’s wolves can continue the wonderful conservation legacy we have crafted for future generations.”


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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.