National Geographic : 2016 May
144 national geographic • may 2016 reaches of Twitter, people who have never given ten minutes’ thought to grizzly bear conservation, who could never tell you the Lakota word for grizzly nor the bear’s key foods in Yellowstone, are angry at Wenk for ordering the death of the sow that killed Lance Crosby in the summer of 2015. Yellowstone National Park received more than four million visitors that year; Grand Teton National Park received over three million; and having set foot in these places, such visitors feel invested—which is good. As the superintendent of Grand Teton, David Vela, said last July to a group of Latino schoolkids from Jack- son who were spending a week in that park as part of an outreach program: “You own this national park. This is part of your heritage as Americans.” Wes Livingston, the mountain guide, the inveterate hunter and antler collector, the detester of government regulation, the despiser of fatuous liberals and whiny cattlemen, captured much the same spirit one evening in camp up in the Thorofare. Livingston views the park as a single big ranch, managed for desirable animals. In other words: the cultivated wild. “ Who owns this ranch?” I asked. “ We do,” he said. “ Who is ‘we’?” “The United States of America. The citizens of America, the taxpayers.” “Does an outfitter in Cody own it more than a wolf hugger in New Jersey?” “Absolutely not,” Livingston said. If the wolves provoke varied angers, and the ownership matter is more consensual, other issues stir quiet worries. Agency biologists such as Mark Bruscino worry that the loss of big private ranches to subdivisions will destroy migration routes and winter ranges of public wildlife. Some grizzly bear advocates worry that, with declines in certain major bear foods, delisting and the hunting to follow will doom the Yellowstone grizzly. Others worry that failure to delist the bear, despite its robust recovery, will only further inflame resentment against the grizzly among people with whom it shares habitat and will undermine the Endangered Species Act itself. Bird lovers worry that the trumpeter swan may be eradicated from Yellowstone. Some herpetologists, along with Mitch Bock, worry that an exotic fungus or climate change, or both, may kill off the boreal toad. Wildlife vet- erinarians worry about the approach of chronic wasting disease, a bizarre affliction similar to mad cow disease, spreading northward toward Greater Yellowstone among mule deer. Tourists worry that, amid the summer crowding, they won’t get a room at Lake Hotel or the Old Faithful Inn. Rangers worry that still another clueless tourist will be gored while taking a selfie in front of a bison. Hallac worries about the crisis creeping across Yellowstone and whether it will slowly ruin the park. As if that weren’t enough, some people worry (despite reassurances from experts such as Robert Smith) that the Yellowstone supervolcano Consequences of Climate Change Warmer temperatures are affecting the park in two critical ways. More days above 32°F mean a longer growing season, which influences the blooming of plants, the arrival of pollinators, and the length of the fire season. In many areas warmer winters have resulted in less snowpack, measured by the amount of water the snow holds. Monitoring stations with more than three decades of data have recorded fewer days with snow each year and a decline in the peak amount of snow.