Why were All the Yellowstone Wolves Exterminated?

Wolves have a fascinating history about their extermination and reintroduction in the Yellowstone National Park. But the most common question arises, why were all the Yellowstone wolves exterminated? Here, I will provide you short and brief gen of these events in Yellowstone related to wolves.

History of wolves in Yellowstone

At the time of the creation of the Yellowstone National Park, gray wolves’ population was already deteriorated in North America especially, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Despite the declined community, wolves extirpated from the lands of Yellowstone. But why were all the Yellowstone wolves exterminated? Here is the answer.

During the late 1800s, Yellowstone inhabited by farmers and ranchers. Gray wolves of the Yellowstone found their cattle the best source of food, which was unbearable for farmers and ranchers. Hence, they came up with the solution of hunting down and assassinating these wolves.

This extermination was not just a practice of the ranchers, professional enterprises, supported by federal agencies, were also snuffing out gray wolves of the Yellowstone. Moreover, government predator control programs played an essential role in eliminating wolves from the Yellowstone.

Wolves are wily and vicious animals and are feared by human beings and other prey of this species. Hence, they were eradicated from the nearby forests as well. For about seventy years, there were no wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and the proximate forests and lands.

Park’s ecosystem without wolves

By 1926, wolves were extinct from the Yellowstone National Park, which had drastic impacts on the ecosystem. This ecological change eliminated top predators from the food chain resulting in a trophic cascade, i.e. the removal of predators changes the prey population and causes dire influences on ecosystem nutrient cycling.

To cut it clear, the removal of wolves eventually increased the elk population, which in turn, devastated the ecosystem by eating young trees and plants in bulk. It resulted in the curtailment of the hosts of trees and plants, like birds and beavers. After this disruption in the ecological system of Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park lost its glory, and its lands turned into a barren wilderness.


The ecosystem had to be maintained to restore the former glory of Yellowstone. For this purpose, the federal authorities had to reintroduce wolves in the Yellowstone National Park. In recent years, they released three small packs of wolves at various sites in the Northern areas of Yellowstone. The wolf population is now feeding on elk to bring down the vast elk population and to bring the food chain back in line. National Geographic

Recent research has declared the restoration of wolves in the Yellowstone as a success for reinstating the splendor of the magnificent Yellowstone National Park.

The restoration of wolves in the Yellowstone National Park has been a matter of great importance for the last two decades. But many still ask, why were all the Yellowstone wolves exterminated? The retort to this interrogation is quite exciting and I am sure it must have fascinated you as well.


Number of Wolves in Yellowstone

Number of Packs






















Be careful of wild animals.