Elk NetworkWolf vs. Wolf War in Wyoming

General | February 9, 2018
The Cost of Wolves

It is common knowledge that elk are the number-one entrée on a wolf’s menu. But what happens when elk are scarce? That’s exactly the case right now in Wyoming’s Gros Ventre Wilderness outside of Yellowstone National Park, where feedgrounds are usually teaming with elk. And because of that wolves are turning on each other.

“Wolves are acting kind of like Yellowstone wolves right now,” Ken Mills, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wolf biologist, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “We definitely get wolves that kill other wolves every year, but to have a whole pack shift territories and kill off a neighboring pack — or at least kill a few of them — that’s different.”

A resident of nearby Jackson Hole said because of the presence of the large carnivores, many elk now live year-round near subdivisions on the Snake River bottoms.

Back in the Gros Ventre, there is a scarcity of elk and that has a definite deadly impact on rival wolf packs.

“Wolves are overlapping at the moment, and there’s a lot of shifting going on because of elk distribution,” said Mills. “For our part, we’re not trying to make a big deal out of this. This is just what’s going on.”