Source: THE POWER OF PARKS Threatened Species Are Thriving in Yellowstone. Now What? The park’s protected ecosystem has reinvigorated what remains of the Wild West. The question is whether this is as wild as it gets.
By Todd Wilkinson
At its birth in 1872, Yellowstone National Park was viewed in great part as an oversize zoo, its diverse animals managed like captives in a menagerie. But in the decades since, much has changed.
Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk summed up today’s more expansive view in a recent interview: “Rather than manipulating wildlife to do what we want it to do, we strive now to secure habitat to let wildlife do what it needs to do—to let natural processes play out as best we can.”
Indeed, the arrival of the modern environmental age has brought many dramatic changes to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Take the case of the black-footed ferret.
Within circles of conservation biology, there are animals known as “Lazarus species,” those believed lost to extinction that seem, miraculously, to rise again.
Mustela nigripes, a member of the weasel family, was believed to have gone extinct by the 1980s. The ferret preys on prairie dogs, and when those rodents were deliberately annihilated from much of the West to make way for livestock in the 20th century, ferret numbers dwindled and appeared to wink out. Click HERE to read full article.
Notoriously elusive, cougars vary their range in response to their prey, mostly elk and deer. In winter they favor the shallow snow in the northern reaches of Yellowstone. This cougar was caught on the prowl by a camera trap set behind an elk rack on a cliff.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DREW RUSH WITH THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE