Yellowstone Wolf Project

Introduction | Task | Process | Pre-Write Activity | Conclusion
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IntroductionSheep Head

The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood are classic children's fairy tales, but the tale of the Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf is real.  Wolves are predators, and in 1914, the United States Congress huffed and puffed and approved the funding to destroy the wolves.  Government bounty hunters helped ranchers protect their livestock by killing the wolves.  Sixty years later the Gray Wolf was listed as endangered.   In 1973, Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act, and the Wolf Recovery Program was started to reintroduce the Gray Wolf to its natural habitat.   Currently about 160 wolves have been reintroduced to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park.  But this story does not have a fairy tale ending.  Fearing for their livestock, the ranchers filed a lawsuit, and in December 1997, U.S. District Judge William Downes ruled that all the wolves and their offspring must be removed.


Performance Task

Your task will be to analyze the Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf problem, and draw your own conclusion to the following question.  

Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed?

Remember that there is no right or wrong answer.   The Gray Wolf issue is complex.  You will be assessed on how you support your conclusion, communicate effectively, and collaborate with your peers.  Your final activity will be to make your ideas known by writing an editorial. [Grading Rubric]   Government, environmental, and agricultural leaders can't seem to solve the issue.  Maybe they need to see it through the eyes of a student.

Sheep Eyes

The Process

You will be working together in a small group of 3 to 6 students.  As an individual member of your group, you will be called on to explore several Web pages.  You will be the expert, and your group will be counting on you to provide a clear explanation of your portion of the information.  As a group, your job will be to:

  1. Investigate wolf behavior. 
  2. Research the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction Program.
  3. Define and analyze the current problem from different perspectives.
  4. Develop a solution.
  5. Report your solution to the world.

The Yellowstone Wolf Conflict is a real problem.  Your opinion is important, and your solution will give adult leaders insight. 

Step 1 - Investigate Wolf BehaviorCrystal

Assign each group member one of the Web pages below.  It's ok if more than one student reads an article.  After exploring the Web pages individually, get back together in your group and answer the questions below.

  1. Describe each type of howl.
  2. Identify two ways that humans communicate with their pack.
  3. How do wolves help the environment?
  4. Why is it important that the wolves be reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park?
  5. Explain why wolves are considered predators.
  6. Why do wolves kill sheep and other livestock?
  7. How is family life for a wolf similar to that of a human?
  8. Craft one additional question for each article, and answer it. Please avoid yes or no type questions.


Step 2  - Yellowstone Reintroduction Background Information

Assign each group member one of the articles below.  It's ok if more than one student reads an article.  While you are exploring the Web page, answer the following questions.  Concentrate on not reaching any conclusion about the wolf reintroduction program.  Just the facts!Sheep

  1. What is the Wolf Reintroduction Program trying  to accomplish?
  2. Who are the organizations (people) involved in reintroducing the wolves?
  3. Where, when, and how were the wolves reintroduced in Yellowstone?
  4. Why are many of the local ranchers opposed to the wolves being reintroduced?
  5. Craft one additional question for each article, and answer it. Please avoid yes or no type questions.


Now get back together in your group and share each individual's answers to the questions.  Create a group response to the questions.  Remember, try not to take sides!  Just the facts!

Step 3 - What Seems to be the Problem?

Identifying the problem is frequently the most difficult part of a good solution.  Instead of identifying the true problem, people tend to focus on obstacles to the problem.  This is because people have deep feelings about their side of the issue.  Here are two editorials appearing on the same day in The Post Register Online.


Your group needs to review both articles, and for each article, write a single sentence that identifies what the author believes is the real issue behind the wolf reintroduction program.  Remember that you are reading articles written by real people with a passion for their side of the issue, so you may need to get help from your teacher or parent to pull out the information.

RancherStep 4 - Time to Take a Stand

Can man and wolf live together peacefully?  Does a rancher have the right to protect his/her livestock from wolf attack?  If the wolves are removed from Yellowstone, what will the impact be on other animals in the park?

Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed? Each of you may have a different opinion on the subject, but your group needs to reach only one conclusion.   Use the information that you have gathered to support your decision. 

Step 5 - Write your group editorial

The conclusion to this project is real.  You will be writing a letter to a person that has deep feelings about the wolf issue.  Your letter needs to be polite and well written.  Most importantly, you need to be sure that your facts are straight, and your solution is realistic.  [Grading Rubric] Use the Pre-Write activity to construct your letter. You will be writing to one of the following four people:[A note to both teachers and students.]



The Yellowstone Wolf Conflict is a real problem.  The people involved are passionate about their side of the issue.  Your solution will not be taken lightly.  It's time to take a stand, and do your best work.


Sheep Eyes

Adapted for offline use. For the real WebQuest go to:


Poway Unified School District Last Revised 6/01/99
By Keith Nuthall
Poway Unified School District
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