Some 20 years ago gray wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone Park in the United States. Their impact has been a transformation of an ecosystem, in ways that few scientists had imagined. But even as the animals are celebrated as a “keystone” species their future remains in doubt, and their reputation in some circles is as villainous as ever. Excerpt of a new Free Range column by Deborah Jones, Wolves as Ecosystems Engineers:
Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs have a lot to answer for: thanks partly to fairy tales, wolves have a ghastly and global reputation as big and bad, terrorists of young girls and small pigs, good for nothing but their pelts. But science offers redemption — and one fair wolf tale can be found in Yellowstone National Park in the western United States. Alas, it’s a tale without an end.
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