A habituated gray wolf believed to be conditioned to human foods was killed by Yellowstone National Park staff Oct. 8.
Since July, the 110-pound male wolf had approached staff and visitors at close range at least seven times and had been unsuccessfully hazed each time from the Fishing Bridge developed areas. The wolf was a member of Mollie’s Pack from the Pelican Valley area, and was estimated to be between two and four years old.
The decision to remove the wolf came following a history of fearless behavior in the presence of humans, repeated visitation to developed areas within the park and numerous unsuccessful hazing attempts. Each of these factors was indicative of the wolf’s potential habituation to human food, which posed an increased risk to park visitors and staff.
Efforts to relocate food-conditioned animals have generally proven
unsuccessful because they simply return to the areas from which they were removed.
The Park reminds visitors that intentionally feeding or allowing animals to obtain human food is a violation of park regulations, which may ultimately lead to the death of the animal involved. Park rangers enforce these regulations, which are designed to protect both people and animals. Visitors are also reminded to be vigilant with proper food storage by keeping food, garbage, coolers and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or food storage boxes.
Park rules require people to stay at least 100 yards away from wolves at all times. Visitors are also advised to stay on designated trails, hike in groups of three or more people, and to be alert for wildlife and make noise in blind spots. The best defense against attacks is to stay a safe distance from wildlife and use your binoculars, spotting scope or telephoto
lens to get a closer look, and never feed, approach, disturb or entice wolves in any way. Bear spray may be an effective last resort should a wolf approach too closely.
The Park also warns that sightings of wolves in close proximity of humans and developed areas may be a dangerous situation developing; these should be reported to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible.