This year, 2015, marks the 20th anniversary of the wolf’s return to Yellowstone National Park. On January 12, 1995, eight gray wolves from Alberta, Canada, were reintroduced into the park and became the first to live there since they were extirpated in 1926—an absence of 69 years. Seven days later, six more wolves arrived in Yellowstone, bringing the total to 14. That same month, 15 wolves were released into the wild in central Idaho.
A year later, in January 1996, 17 new wolves were brought to Yellowstone from British Columbia, Canada, and another 20 were released in Idaho. Finally, one of our nation’s top predators could once again carry out its vital role in the Northern Rockies Ecosystem.
Just 20 years after having the wolves returned, however, it seems that we’ve forgotten the crucial part that they play in maintaining the health of the natural world. The old wolf worries and conflicts from ranchers and government officials that led to the wolf’s original demise have re-emerged. The most significant voiced fear today is livestock depredations, despite the fact that in the last two decades, less than 1 percent of such losses were due to wolves.
The first video below, produced by Earthjustice, makes us think about that. It tells a compelling story, using stylized drawings and animation. Watch it, and then take a look at the four-minute Smithsonian Channel video that follows. It takes us back to 1995, when a cage door was opened in the wilderness, and a wrong was made right in the form of an escaping wolf.
As mentioned in the first video, wolves are a symbol of what we couldn’t tame. What’s shown in the second video … well, it will get you every time.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,