The first image is of Lower Falls, Yellowstone’s highest waterfall (308 feet!). The caption says: During the height of the runoff period, usually in June, some 63,500 gallons of water per second are estimated to pass over Lower Falls.
The second image is of a gray wolf. Declared an endangered species in 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated greater Yellowstone a wolf recovery area. In the mid-1990s, there was a major effort to relocate remaining wolves in Canada and Montana to Yellowstone where they are protected.
As the region’s most effective predators, wolves serve an important role in bringing down prey that are then eaten by all the other predators in the ecosystem. Wolves are also good indicator of how prey populations like elk, deer and bison are faring.
But wolves in the northern Rockies are a contentious issue. On the whole, they have thrived in greater Yellowstone, causing them to be removed from the endangered species list. This means they can be hunted by humans outside of the National Park boundary. For readers not from the U.S.: Wyoming, Idaho and Montana are perhaps the most avid hunting states. These states also rely overwhelmingly on ranching. And armed ranchers tend to see wolves as a serious threat to their livestock even though wolves are one of the smallest factors in livestock mortality.
So wolves have bounced on and off the endangered species list. When they’re on it, the population thrives. This persuades the Fish and Wildlife Service to remove them from the endangered species list. But then they’re heavily hunted and endangered again. It’s been a pretty vicious cycle. (I realize this isn’t deep coverage of the issue–this is a postcard blog, after all–but feel free to add any burning comments!) Caption: Old Faithful erupts every 45 to 80 minutes to heights of 100 to 180 feet. It can discharge as much as 7,500 gallons of hot water during an eruption.A moose at the foot of Grand Teton Mountain