The Grey Wolves were first listed as an endangered specie on March 11, 1967. But thanks to Yellowstone National Park and other refugees for the wolves, they were taken off the endangered list in 2004.
The thought of wolves, usually scare people. Yet, wolves are actually scared of us. They will do their best to avoid people. Although, a wolf could easily kill a human there is no verifiable evidence that a healthy wild wolf has ever deliberately attacked or seriously injured a human being in North America. They also do not like to travel alone. Wolves usually travel in packs, consisting of their mate and their offspring, plus any other non-breeding adult.
Yet, they do need to be protected from us. Some people would love the idea to kill them. That was one major factor in putting them on the endangered list.
To the best of the knowledge of researchers there are only 2,200 wolves living in the wild. Most live in protected refuges such a Yellowstone Park. That is why it is so scary that the numbers of Grey Wolves in these refuges are beginning to decline. It would be impossible to really know if the numbers living in the wild are declining, too.
Yellowstone National Park is located in Billings, Montana. Eleven years ago Grey Wolves were introduced to the park. Then in 1995 and 1996, thirty-one wolves were moved from Canada into the park, where the were released. Each year, the number of wolves slowly raised.
In 2004, it was reported that there were 112 pups and 59 adults living in Yellowstone National Park.
But by December 2005, they became aware of an alarming problem. Many of the newborn Grey Wolf pups have died.
The major cause hasn’t been proven. Populations can fluctuate because of lack of food, fighting within their own packs and killing by people. Of course, in the park they are protected from people. They believe that a virus called parvovirus could be the cause. This is also a virus that can effect dogs. Symptoms of this disease is extreme diarrhea and dehydration. It can be deadly for young or vulnerable animals. Many people are aware of this virus in dogs and are taking the precaution of getting them vaccinated. This is easy to do with domesticated animals, but harder with those in the wild, such as the Grey Wolf pups.
Probably the easiest step they could take is by checking the bodies of the deceased pups and see if the parvovirus is present. Of course, if possible, the living pups should also be tested. This test would consist of a blood sample.
If the parvovirus is found among any of the living or dead pups, then basically every wolf will have to be caught and then vaccinated. Each animal would have to receive two vaccinations before an immunity could be built. But this is really an impractical task, because it will be impossible to catch every one of them. Yet, the more that is vaccinated, the more will have the chance to live.
Yellowstone National Park has all ready reported that one pack, the Nez Perce Pack has been totally wiped out. Plus, in December only 19 wolf pups survived the season compared to the usual 50 to 60. The total of the wolves have dropped from 171 wolves in 16 packs to an unofficial count of 113 in 11 to 13 packs.
If you would like to help Yellowstone National Park, please contact them. They are always in need for financial support and this year with the number of vaccinations they will possibly need to buy, the need will probably be greater.
Could parvovirus cause more wolf pups to die next year? Possibly.
After making it off the endangered list it would be sad if the Grey Wolf would have to be placed back on it or worse if they would eventually become extinct.