|A grizzly bear and leopold wolf in Yellowstone NP, Doug Smith 2006, courtesy of Yellowstone National Park|
A recent study released in the Journal of Animal Ecology has officially detailed the symbiotic relationship of two of North America’s greatest predators, the grizzly bear and the grey wolf. The authors, led by Oregon State University ecologist William Ripple, found that the health and well-being of each animal is linked. With the restoration of wolves to the Yellowstone ecosystem, elk herd populations were thinned, which allowed many species of berries to flourish. Many animals that feast on those berries, such as grizzlies, were then able to find more food in abundance.
As Ripple told the High Country News, “We developed four different data sets to show that the re-introduction of the wolf to Yellowstone has had a much deeper and more far-reaching effect on the flora and fauna of the Yellowstone ecosystem than we realized.”
This report wasn’t the only bear and wolf story to come out in the last few weeks. The Billings Gazette posted fantastic pictures of grizzlies and wolves dining together on a bison carcass in Yellowstone National Park. Photographer Pete Bengeyfield, a retired member of the Forest Service, captured a remarkable series of the interaction between these species over a few days in September. Head over to the Billings Gazette to check them out.