A Story About A Wolf

Rewilding is an approach to regain the natural balance and vitality in nature’s eco-systems by inserting key missing elements back into a weakening system in order to re-establish a resilience and dynamic order into the system.

Fascinated by this rewilding concept, we pursued a greater understanding of rewilding and began to see powerful behavioral similarities between nature’s eco-systems and human organizations. The results of a 1995 rewilding effort at Yellowstone Park absolutely amazed us. At that time, Yellowstone’s eco-system was rapidly disintegrating. The expanding deer population was reducing the vegetation throughout the park at an alarming rate. If something wasn’t done Yellowstone Park would soon become a barren landscape where very few if any of its resident species would survive. The forest service made a radical decision to reintroduce wolves into the park system after being absent for over 70 years. Within 6 years a dramatic transformation of the park had taken place.

Yes, bringing back the wolves helped to reduce the deer population but more importantly the wolves changed the behavior of the deer. The deer started to stay away from the open valleys and areas where they could be trapped by the wolves. As a result those areas began to come back.

Not only did the grass grow back but within 6 years the Aspens and other trees in the area quintupled in height which brought back the birds and beavers who fed on the tree saplings. The beavers being the eco-engineers that they are built dams on the streams and rivers which in turn created niches for other species to flourish. The wolves also reduced the coyote population which increased the rabbit and mice population which in turn provided food for hawks, eagles, badgers and foxes. In 6 short years, the regenerating effect that the wolves had on the Yellowstone Park eco-system was remarkable.  An even more astonishing result happened.  As the forests were regenerated it helped to reduce erosion along the rivers which in turn stabilized both the banks and the flow of the rivers throughout the park.

Introducing wolves into the system not only regenerated Yellowstone’s eco-system but they also actually helped to change the physical geography of Yellowstone.


For more information about the "rewilding" of Yellowstone National Park, we recommend viewing this video from TED Talks