Problem Yellowstone wolf killed

After several attempts to deter a yearling male wolf from his fascination with humans and bikes, Yellowstone National Park officials killed the young rebel along Fountain Flat Drive.

The wolf was a member of the Gibbon Meadow Pack, first roaming the Midway Geyser Basin and then lurking around Biscuit Basin and Old Faithful. There were several reports of the wolf approaching Yellowstone National Park visitors, but his interest wasn’t really with people: he was scavenging for food.

Indeed, as word of more incidents involving the wolf were circulated, it was clear that the wolf wasn’t interested in jumping a tourist and eating their spleen or spinal cord: this was the Yogi Bear of the wolf world, a guy looking for a free meal or a convenient picnic basket. That interest did act out in some odd ways: there were at least three reports of the wolf chasing bicyclists and one involving a motorcycle. And the wolf clearly had no fear of humans, approaching groups and cars on several occasions — in search of a handout.

Of course, for National Park officials, that distinction doesn’t matter: the wolf had become conditioned to looking for human food, and such conditioning is strictly forbidden for all Yellowstone Park animals, including bears. Wildlife and people are usually not a good combination, as wildlife can turn and be aggressive at any point.

Park officials took the first steps of trying to deter the wolf from hanging around humans, including the use of rubber bullets and bean-bag rounds.

Those steps didn’t work. So the wolf was put down, the first time a wolf was shot in Yellowstone National Park since their reintroduction in 1995-1996.

Still, it’s a shame. It’s very unlikely the wolf developed a habit of hanging around humans unless someone left food around at some point; a wolf just doesn’t wake up one morning with a taste for white bread, Cheetos and deli meat.

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