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Twenty-five years ago this month, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, America’s first national park and an ecosystem dangerously out of whack owing to the extirpation of its top predator. This monumental undertaking marked the first deliberate attempt to return a top-level carnivore to a large ecosystem. Now scientists are celebrating the gray wolves’ successful return from the brink of extinction as one of the greatest rewilding stories the world has ever seen. “The pressure was huge with this project,” said Doug Smith, the senior wildlife biologist of the Yellowstone Wolf Project who was hired by the National Park Service (NPS) to head the reintroduction in the 1990s. “If we couldn’t do this here, on our own turf in one of the most famous parks in the world, as one of the richest nations in the world, then who could? This was an example to the globe in restoring nature.” But because wolves are one of the most controversial animals on the planet, the recovery remains fiercely contested. Wolf No 9 in Rose Creek pen, 1996. Photograph: Barry O’Neill/Defenders of Wildlife Wolves once roamed from the Arctic to Mexico, but they were hunted to eradication across the country from the […]

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