I know they are controversial. I know they are amazing creatures. I never would have thought that they generate these kinds of dollars for Yellowstone..

From an article on Yellowstone’s site: Wolves

Yellowstone Wolves Bring Estimated $7-10 Million in Annual Tourism Revenue
By Tom Reed, YellowstonePark.com/Yellowstone Journal Corporation

The truck’s plates say it all: “4WOLVES.” Inside are an Iowa couple who return to the Yellowstone country year after year to be campground hosts in the nation’s first national park. They return for the stunning scenery, for the wide open country that is the Lamar Valley, for herds of elk, for shaggy bison and for wolves.

Today’s Yellowstone is a different place than 1995’s Yellowstone. Biologists and ecologists can see it on the ground. Outdoor educators see it in their businesses. And visitors see it on the roads.

Travel the road from Cooke City into the Lamar Valley and you’ll see it too. At pullouts all up and down the valley will be dozens of people standing, pointing, quietly observing. They are there for Yellowstone’s wolves.

Jim Halfpenny is an outdoor educator who specializes in large carnivores. He lives in Gardiner, Montana, a town on the northern edge of the park and from there, he runs classes in wolf ecology. In 1995, he taught one class. Since that time, he has seen the wolf education business spring to life.

“There were fifty-four classes on wolves taught in the first half of 2000 from eleven different organizations. From an educational standpoint, this has just been monstrous in the way it has developed,” said Halfpenny.

Economically, the story has been extremely bright. In 1992, before wolves were reintroduced into the park, a University of Montana economist named John Duffield co-authored a study entitled “The Economics of Wolf Recovery in Yellowstone National Park.” That study predicted a loss to the hunter/outfitter business on the high end of about $500,000 per year. This would be a direct loss to hunting outfitters due to the fact that a declining elk population due to wolves would mean less elk to hunt, which would mean less clients. On the flip side, the benefits to wolf recovery in terms of tourism dollars, educators, and outfitters who specialized in wildlife observation, not hunting, were predicted in the $7-10 million annual range, a gain many times greater than the loss.

A follow-up study to check the accuracy of the predictions is about a year away from publication, but the preliminary numbers look very similar, said Duffield. People want to see wolves, and they come from all over the world to do so. And they bring money.

For a motel owner who struggles during the dreaded “shoulder-season”-those months between the peak tourist seasons-wolves have been extremely good news. Three years ago, Gerlie Weinstein left her life in New Orleans as an English teacher to come to Cooke City to run a business and watch wildlife. Today, she owns the Alpine Motel in Cooke City.

“My business has increased yearly, and increased from the business that the former owners did,” said Weinstein. “I came here because I watch wildlife and that’s what a lot of my clients do.”

The months of April, October, and November can be hard times for motel owners, but with the addition of wolves into the park, businesses like the Alpine Motel don’t need to close up shop during these times.

“We had our best November and best October ever last fall, that would be people coming to see the wildlife,” she said. “They are coming for the wolves and they are coming for the bears.”

What’s more, the potential is just barely being tapped, according to some observers. Read the rest at the above link..