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When wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone, some unexpected species benefitted.

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Rocky Mountain Wolf Project

On a quiet hike in Yellowstone National Park, some lucky visitors might get to hear an amazing sound: the howl of a gray wolf.

A wolf howling in the Lower Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. Image by Jim Peaco/YellowstoneNPS.

They might even get to spot one of these beautiful animals darting across the landscape. In fact, today, the chances of seeing a wolf in some parts of this park — such as Lamar Valley — are so good that some people come just to wolf-watch.


A female wolf standing in a road near the Lamar River Bridge in Yellowstone National Park. Image by Jim Peaco/YellowstoneNPS.

But for most of the 20th century, it was impossible to view these animals at all inside the park.

In fact, it was hard to see a gray wolf anywhere in the lower 48 states. That is because ever since settlers moved west, they feared the great gray wolf. The fact that wolves started killing livestock didn’t help either.

So, starting in the late 1800s up until the 1920s, wolves were hunted and poisoned by ranchers and predator control programs in order to protect people, livestock, and other “more desirable” wildlife species.  In the end, not a single breeding pair of wolves remained in Yellowstone National Park.

Soda Butte Creek in Yellowstone National Park in October 1993. Image by Jim Peaco/YellowstoneNPS.

When Yellowstone lost its wolves, it caused some big problems for the whole ecosystem.

Wolves are apex predators, which means they are at the top of the food web. When wolves were eliminated, it caused what scientists call a top-down trophic cascade. In other words, the whole ecosystem became unbalanced.

“Most ecosystems are best when they’re balanced,” Doug Smith, project leader for the Wolf Restoration Project in Yellowstone, said in a National Park Service Q&A. “Having a lot of different kinds of things at moderate numbers is better than having a lot of any one thing.”

Without wolves, there was a lot of one thing: elk. And biodiversity across the entire park declined as a result.

Two bull elk at Blacktail Deer Plateau. Image by Neal Herbert/YellowstoneNPS.

Why? Because without one of their major natural predators, fewer elk were dying. Their numbers grew so much that they ended up overgrazing large areas of land, leaving them vulnerable to erosion and defoliation.

This hurt plants and other animal species. Willow and aspen trees started dying off — and that hurt the species that relied on these trees for their survival, such as the birds that use them as nesting grounds and the beavers that use the wood to build dams and survive the winter.

The numbers of rabbits and mice species fell, too, because of all the overgrazing. They simply had fewer places to hide from predators.

Everything started to change after scientists reintroduced 41 wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

A newly arrived wolf is released from its cage into a pen in 1996. Image by Jim Peaco/YellowstoneNPS.

From 1995 to 1997, wolves were captured in Canada and northwest Montana and transported to Yellowstone. Once there, each was radio-collared and temporarily penned so biologists could make sure they were healthy.

Then they were released into the wilderness of the park.

Park rangers prepare to release a wolf into the park in 1996. image by Jim Peaco/YellowstoneNPS.

The wolves thrived in their new home.

The newly formed packs spread out and established their territories, and the large populations of elk and deer provided them with ample prey. And because they were inside the national park, the animals were protected from hunters. So their numbers grew.

The Gibbon wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park. Image via Yellowstone/NPS.

Before long, the wolves started changing Yellowstone’s ecosystem all over again, but this time for the better.

The first thing that happened was the number of large prey dropped. In 1995, Yellowstone was home to about 18,000 elk, but by 2015, that number had dropped to 4,500, helping restore the ecosystem's natural balance.

Elk on Mount Everts in Yellowstone National Park in 2014. Image by Neal Herbert/YellowstoneNPS.

Scientists think this happened, at least in part, because wolves started to change their prey’s behavior. Deer and elk started avoiding areas where they could be easily hunted, such as open valleys and gorges, which caused those areas to regenerate. Plants started growing on the riverbanks and erosion decreased, causing rivers and streams to actually change course.

Meanwhile, birds, beavers, mice, and bears started returning to those once-barren areas.

A western meadowlark in Lamar Valley in the spring of 2015. Image by Neal Herbert/YellowstoneNPS.

The landscape of the whole park transformed, and the ecosystem as a whole became healthier.  

A grizzly bear and her cub. Image by Jim Peaco/YellowstoneNPS.

Because they are carnivores, wolves often get a bad rap — but the Yellowstone story shows just how important they are to our planet.

The ecosystem in Yellowstone is complex and always changing, but recent history has shown scientists and ecologists how important wolves are to keeping the natural balance. It is true that wolves hunt large animals, but they are not just killers — they also help other species thrive.  

A wolf from the Canyon pack in Yellowstone. Image by Diane Renkin/NPS.

We all know the story about the “the big bad wolf.” But today, Yellowstone National Park is helping us learn a different story about wolves, and this is one is a lot happier.

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Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



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However, at anywhere between four to ten times the price of a regular economy ticket, this style of traveling remains a fantasy for many who simply can’t afford it.

Luckily, thanks to one man’s clever travel hack, that fantasy might be more achievable than we realize.

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When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

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