Wyoming: Viewing Wolves in Yellowstone National Park

GoNOMAD editor, Max Hartshorne takes a trip to Yellowstone National Park and hangs with park ranger and wolf lover, Rick McIntyre. Rick devotes his life’s work to the study of the controversial gray wolf which was reintroduced to the national park 15 years ago after their population was killed off in the early 1920’s. Their comeback has made Yellowstone a key destination for visitors interested in observing the wolf.

Rick McIntyre, Yellowstone's Wolf Man. Photos by Max Hartshorne.

Of all the animals you can find in Yellowstone National Park, none generate the controversy nor the tourism revenue of the gray wolf. The predator was introduced back into the park fifteen years ago, after the original population was killed off by park rangers in the years up to 1926.

After decades of debate, study and acrimony between wolf lovers and ranchers, who stand at opposite sides of this fiery issue, the decision was made and today, about 75 adult wolves and 50 pups live in the park.

Visitors can see them through scopes that are frequently set up along the roads and in certain locations by wolf-lovers, who help park rangers keep track of them by reporting sitings. If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone, track down ranger Rick McIntyre and look for him leaning over a scope or speaking to visitors. McIntyre, 61, a park ranger who has worked in Alaska’s Denali, and Montana’s Glacier National Parks, has made the study of these creatures his life’s work.

The Story of Number 21

Rick told us the story of Yellowstone’s first reintroduced wolves — including one of first alpha males, called number 21, and his mate, 42. Their offspring would later include one of his personal favorites that a National Geographic film crew nicknamed Casanova, but McIntyre called 302.

Wyoming: Viewing Wolves in Yellowstone National Park