‘Unprecedented killing’: The deadliest season for Yellowstone’s wolves


Kim Bean saw the black ravens clustered in the leafless cottonwoods and thought: There’s our death.

The carcass had been on the hillside overlooking Yellowstone National Park for some time, but there was still enough flesh to attract scavengers. Bean crouched over it, examining the thin bones on the snowy ground.

“They chopped off the feet,” she said.

The head was also gone, making it harder to identify the animal. But there were clues. The radius and ulna were not fused, ruling out themule deer or elk that migrate out of the park in winter across the plateau known as Deckard Flats. Bean suspected it was a gray wolf, and she had plenty of reasons to think so.

In less than six months, hunters have shot and trapped 25 of Yellowstone’s wolves — a record for one season — the majority killed in this part of Montana just over the park border. The hunting has eliminated about one-fifth of the park’s wolves, the most serious threat yetto a population that has been observed by tourists and studied by scientists more intensively than any in the world.


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