We’re five miles into the Bechler area of Yellowstone National Park, crossing a flat meadow of yellow grasses between forested hummocks. It’s late August, and the Teton Range, visible behind us, is white from the first snowstorm of the year. Yellowstone Wolf Project Research Associate Kira Cassidy and I are collecting a trail camera that’s been up for nearly a year. With any luck, it will yield images of the Bechler Wolf Pack, one of the least known packs in the park.
In 2014, a judge ruled that Wyoming’s controversial wolf management plan did not adequately protect the state’s population of wolves. Mainly due to a provision that allowed the animal to be shot on sight in two-thirds of the state, the judge restored Endangered Species Act protections to wolves in Wyoming and put management back into the hands of the federal government.