What Do California Condors, Gray Wolves, and Black-Footed Ferrets Have in Common? National Parks Are Helping Them Recover

A black-footed ferret at Wind Cave National Park.

A black-footed ferret at Wind Cave National Park. National Park Service photo.

Did you know that California condors once ranged throughout the skies of western North America, but by the 1980s, fewer than ten remained? Or that gray wolves used to roam much of the United States until habitat loss and predator control programs virtually eliminated them? Now, both species are starting to making a comeback, in large part due to the efforts of the National Park Service, in conjunction with other federal agencies and partners.

National parks protect some of our country’s most treasured landscapes and provide places to rebuild populations of plants and wildlife that have suffered due to human activities such as habitat destruction, over-hunting, and environmental pollution. Restoring native species also benefits the wider ecosystem, since each species plays an important role in the overall functioning and health of its community.

Check out NPCA’s new GeoStory—an innovative multimedia tool with photos, videos, and maps of the parks—to learn how several national parks are bringing back species that had been lost in those regions.

You can also watch one of the highlights of the Geostory below: NPCA’s new, moving video of one Park Service superintendent’s bond with the wolves he helped reintroduce into Yellowstone.

Bringing Back the Wolf (Subtitled) from NPCA on Vimeo.

About the Author

Elizabeth Meyers is former information and outreach manager for NPCA’s Center for Park Research.

  • Jennifer

    Love the new GeoStory tool. What a great way to illustrate the plight of our endangered species. Oh, and now I want a ferret. Thanks NPCA!

  • Marie Takada

    Thank you for the great work!

  • Rebecca

    What a wonderful, heartfelt video. Thank you to Mike and all the others who took the chance and risk of introducing these beautiful wolves to Yellowstone. Because of you we are able to enjoy their presence.

  • Peggy Jakopak

    What a wonderful video. it is just a shame that states like Montana, Idaho, and Washington are doing their very best to destroy every wolf alive. More people should do as this gentleman has done and embrace the fact that we NEED them in our ecosystem. Well done sir.

  • Kitty Smith

    Made me cry because Idaho wolf hunting year round … Montana and some states wants keep wolf hunting go on.. Since Obama delist the wolves.

  • http://yahoo.com Tim Upham

    I hope the same success, they had with gray wolves, can be repeated with red wolves. Red wolves had to be removed from a designated area in Mississippi, because of too much human pressures.

  • Mike

    Sharing the wild with the wolf is always inspiring. I have known kids from Northern MN to the far western places, who one way or another know the wolf, having seen them run, and heard stories from their elders about what was, and what could be learned from this other social being.

    Knowing a few who have claimed the wolf as their totem, I’d like to explain what this can mean: Recently I ran into a Native American woman who, when she saw a wolf I know, told me that the wolf was her totem. A totem is one’s private special animal from whom one learns wisdom: The life practices of an animals show the many ways which different animals treat their relatives, and how they are aware and communicate. Study of the actions and communications leaves insights into how we ourselves are acting and communicating.

    Some of you know of the Haida saying, that the wolf only shows himself when he has something to tell you.

    Anyway, she and I were speaking excitedly, and purposely loudly, in order to share our experiences with a nearby person who was listening in. He was an Alaskan hunter whose only interest previously was collecting wolf skins. He became more curious, and possibly learned something about their nature and their lives.

    Education is slow, even among those who have walked in the wild with the wolf. Be patient and use all your stamina in this difficult process; when you scent your quarry, your purpose, follow. Test even those who seem fiercely opposed, for they may be ready to finish that way of being, and give their lives toward a better way.

  • Doug Mishler

    To me the wolf is an inspriration, or a symbol of freedom. We have hunted them down for years and completely eradicated them i n most parts of the US. This is wrong. We can learn a lot from wolves. Besides, they are part of the ecosystem that some are trying to destroy in their insatiable desire to conquer the earth. Every time we eradicate a species from Earth, we are one step closer to our own demise. wolves will probably outlive us , as a species, if we keep going at the rate we are at now, and I hope they do. They never take more than they need, which is the first thing we could learn from them.

  • hayley nicole

    why do California condors look like a hair less freak