Yellowstone Wolf Project

Introduction Sheep Head

The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood are classic children's fairy tales, but the tale of the Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf is real.  Wolves are predators, and in 1914, the United States Congress approved the funding to destroy the wolves.  Government bounty hunters helped ranchers protect their livestock by killing the wolves.  Sixty years later the Gray Wolf was listed as endangered.   In 1973, Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act, and the Wolf Recovery Program was started to reintroduce the Gray Wolf to its natural habitat. Currently about 160 wolves have been reintroduced to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park.  But this story does not have a fairy tale ending.  Fearing for their livestock, the ranchers filed a lawsuit, and in December 1997, U.S. District Judge William Downes ruled that all the wolves and their offspring must be removed.

Performance Task

Your task will be to analyze the Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf problem, and draw your own conclusion to the following question:

Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed?

Textfeld: Schedule
1. Tuesday September 18th
Internet research
2. Thursday, September 20th
Groups discuss findings, if necessary, individuals may access the internet again
3. Tuesday, September 25th
regular biology lessons; 20 minutes may be reserved for clearing questions
4. Thursday, September 27th
groups work on their own (teacher away)
5. Tuesday, October 2nd
groups turn in their work on a computer disk; final discussion
Government, environmental, and agricultural leaders seem unable to solve the problem.  Maybe they need to see it through the eyes of a student. That´s why your group will write an editorial as a result of your research on this issue and send it via e-mail to one or more of these parties. Remember that there is no right or wrong answer.   The Gray Wolf issue is complex.  You will be assessed on how you support your conclusion [Grading Rubric]  

The Process

You will be working together in a group of 4 students.  As an individual member of your group, you will have to explore several Web pages. You will be the expert, and your group will be counting on you to provide a clear explanation of your portion of the information.  As a group, your job will be to:


  1. Investigate wolf behavior. 
  2. Research the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction Program. Define and analyze the current problem from different perspectives.
  3. Develop a solution.
  4. Report your solution to the world.

The Yellowstone Wolf Conflict is a real problem.  Your opinion is important, and your solution will give adult leaders insight. 

Step 1 - Investigate Wolf Behavior

Assign each group member one of the Web pages below.  It's ok if more than one student reads an article.  It might be best to print them!. After exploring the Web pages individually, get back together in your group and answer the questions below. Crystal

  1. How do wolves help the environment?
  2. Why is it important that the wolves be reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park?
  3. Explain why wolves are considered predators.
  4. Why do wolves kill sheep and other livestock?


What's in a howl? by Nova online (You will need Real Audio.)
"Wolves' Return to Yellowstone Sparks Controversy" by CNN interactive.
Expert Interview by Wolf People

Step 2  - Yellowstone Reintroduction Background Information

Assign each group member one of the articles below.  It's ok if more than one student reads an article. It might be best to print them! While you are exploring the Web page, answer the following questions.  Concentrate on not reaching any conclusion about the wolf reintroduction program.  Just the facts! Sheep

  1. What is the Wolf Reintroduction Program trying  to accomplish?
  2. Who are the organizations (people) involved in reintroducing the wolves?
  3. Where, when, and how were the wolves reintroduced in Yellowstone?
  4. Why are many of the local ranchers opposed to the wolves being reintroduced?  


"Farm Bureau and the Gray
by American Farm Bureau News
Court Reversal Of Wolf Removal Order  by the National Wildlife Federation
"Bringing Wolves Home: Ed Bangs" by Nova On-Line 
Analysis of Farm Bureau Victory by Expert Interview

Here are two rather emotional editorials appearing on the same day in The Post Register Online that might help you identify the problem:

Send the Wolves Back by Jerry Miller

·         You Really Don't Understand the News  by Renee Askins

Now get back together in your group and share each individual's answers to the questions.  Create a group response to the questions.  Remember, try not to take sides!  Just the facts!

RancherStep 3 - Time to Take a Stand

Can man and wolf live together peacefully?  Does a rancher have the right to protect his/her livestock from wolf attack?  If the wolves are removed from Yellowstone, what will the impact be on other animals in the park?

Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed? Each of you may have a different opinion on the subject, but your group needs to reach only one conclusion.   Use the information that you have gathered to support your decision. 


By the way: Your teacher will have some extra material ready for you, just in case you´d  like to find out about the latest developments in the Yellowstone wolves conflict!

Step 4 - Write your group editorial

The conclusion to this project is real.  You will be writing a letter to a person that has deep feelings about the wolf issue.  Your letter needs to be polite and well written.  Most importantly, you need to be sure that your facts are straight, and your solution is realistic.  You will be writing to one of the following four people: [A note to both teachers and students.]

Marie Michelson, Defenders of Wildlife
Rick Krause, American Farm Bureau Federation's General Counsel
Robert Kezer, Boomer Wolf
Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior


The Yellowstone Wolf Conflict is a real problem.  The people involved are passionate about their side of the issue.  Your solution will not be taken lightly.  It's time to take a stand, and do your best work.

Textfeld: Vocabulary:
If you come across useful vocabulary referring to legal terms, wolf biology or general ecology add them to the list your teacher has prepared for you.
You may look up unknown words at these websites:


Beispiel 1                Beispiel 2 






Compare with the Original Conflict Yellowstone Wolf Webquest!