Visitors to Yellowstone National Park may get to see more elk, deer and bison if wolves are reintroduced to the park.
Female elk under the pressure of wolf predation probably will change how they live and move closer to human beings, areas where they feel safer from wolves, said Francis J. Singer of the National Park Service staff at Yellowstone.He spoke to Wednesday's final session of the North American Wild-life and Natural Resources Conference.
Wolves will prey on elk, mule deer and other big game animals, and that may mean restrictions on antlerless hunts to preserve the balance but should have no other negative effects on herds, he said.
What probably will happen, he said, is juvenile elk will stand a better chance of surviving the winter. Now about one-third of the juveniles starve to death each winter.
Nearby Canadian areas where wolves prey on elk have little die-off of juvenile elk.
Singer said he anticipates there would eventually be about 80 wolves on the park's northern range and 10 to 20 wolves in other areas of the park's interior, including the Madison and Firehole Basins.
To support the wolves there are 40,000 elk and other members of the deer family in the summer and 29,000 that winter there. Of that, elk make up 31,000 and 22,000 of the totals.