Down on the Ground with the Ecology of Fear

By George Sibley

Cruising into election time, I find myself thinking about wolves. And fear.

I have been following, in a layman’s way, the wolf restoration project in the northern Rockies. One thing I’ve learned is that wolf restoration is credited with restoring the unraveling valley ecosystem in and around Yellowstone National Park. Without going into details, this is mainly due to the way the wolves have shaped the elk herds. Without the wolves, their main natural predator, the elk had not only over-populated the valleys, but had also become fat and lazy “meadow potatoes” (Dave Foreman’s term), loafing around the valley floors trashing the vegetation foundation to any ecosystem.

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