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Natural Resources & Energy

Yellowstone National Park suspends winter monitoring of wildlife

Wolves in snow
Photo Doug Smith via nps.gov/yell

Yellowstone National Park recently announced that it will stop winter monitoring of wildlife in the park as part of its Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan. Monitoring efforts over the last decade have shown that snowmobile and snowcoach use in the park have had little impact on wildlife.

"Upon our review, what this is simply doing is suspending that one component of our winter monitoring framework," said Jon Nicholson, outdoor recreation planner in Yellowstone. "We will continue to monitor air quality and soundscape monitoring, but it was just a wildlife component that we decided to suspend."

In October 2021, the park sought public comments on the proposal.

According to Nicholson, if there are any indications in the future that wildlife is being impacted, they would reevaluate the management plan again and take appropriate action.

"Although we don't have specific components that would dictate when we would resume our wildlife monitoring efforts, we do have staff and employees that are still out there in the park," said Nicholson. "So if we did start to see noticeable changes in the wildlife population, or if there were other anomalies, the park would come in and review those events that were occurring."

He added that given the record-breaking visitation in 2021, this will redistribute job duties and allow the park to focus on conducting visitor use impact monitoring in the summer.

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