Smith, the face of Yellowstone wolf recovery, is retiring

Flying over Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday morning, his last morning on the job before retirement, Doug Smith looked down at a sight that’s becoming more and more familiar: 10 wolves, members of the Wapiti Lake Pack, dining on a bison that they hadn’t killed.

Wolves primarily prey on elk. But as elk populations have declined, Smith, the longtime director of the Yellowstone Wolf Project and its foremost expert on the large, controversial canines, said they’ve turned to bison as another food source. Typically that means eating buffalo that die in other ways, like being stabbed by another horny bull during the rut.

doug smith

Doug Smith carries a wolf in the Rose Creek pen in February 1997.

Doug Smith

Doug Smith, Yellowstone National Park’s senior wildlife biologist who helmed the park’s wolf, elk and bird programs, is retiring. His last day in the office was Tuesday.

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