To the editor:

In the Dec. 24 article, “Yellowstone investigates deaths of wolves hit by car,” Yellowstone Wolf Project leader Dr. Doug Smith, PhD, blames park visitors for the vehicular deaths of two wolf pups in November. Dr. Smith says too many visitors came too close to a wolf den too many times, thus habituating the wolves to humans and roads.

Dr. Smith’s order: “Visitors must protect wolves from becoming habituated to people and roads.”

This visitor – emphasis on visitor – believes park managers must protect elk from becoming habituated to people and lawns. I am referring to non-native lawns – emphasis on non–native – in and around developed areas, such as, Mammoth, park headquarters.

The lawns are attractant to elk year round. Elk occasionally cause injury to visitors and often damage property. In rutting season, bulls energetically engage pick–up truck mirrors with their antlers and ram cars. In spring, cows calve next to buildings and attack people who venture too close. Absent marauding wolves, the Mammoth feeding and breeding ground is a safe haven for elk.

The park management policy of natural ecological process – let natural fires burn; let wolves maraud, etc. – is disrupted by this unnatural concentration of elk. Getting rid of lawns in developed areas would restore natural processes, keep people safe, and cut operational costs.

Dr. Smith, is your stern admonishment to visitors based on disruption of natural ecological processes, public safety, or your personal affinity of wolves? Also Dr. Smith, does excessive lingering to obtain up close vanity portraits of you posing with inebriated wolves during research procedures, as seen in abundance on the Internet, habituate them?

All of Mammoth’s residents – emphasis on residents – are an unnatural disruption habituating wildlife. I always thought a swamp was a wetland where development is federally prohibited.

(s) Steve  torrey


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