Yellowstone Science – The Challenge of Understanding Northern Yellowstone Elk Dynamics after Wolf Reintroduction
July 4, 2019
The status and trend of the northern Yellowstone elk herd has been an enduring conservation issue throughout the history of Yellowstone National Park. It is the largest of about seven migratory elk herds that graze the park’s high-elevation meadows during summer. But unlike the other herds, the northern Yellowstone herd has a history of spending winter primarily within the park, ranging across the low-elevation grasslands and shrub steppes that fan out from the Yellowstone River and its tributaries along the park’s northern border and adjacent areas of Montana. As the size of the northern herd has fluctuated over time, concerns have alternated between worries of too few and too many elk. Consensus about the appropriate size of the northern Yellowstone elk herd has been elusive.
Author(s): Daniel R. MacNulty, Daniel R. Stahler, C. Travis Wyman, Joel Ruprecht, & Douglas W. Smith