Yellowstone is now thriving thanks to its wolves, but their arrival was a nervy experiment

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“How many people in the whole world ever get to see a wolf in the wild?” a burly man whispered and offered me my turn at the telescope. Eagerly reaching for the scope on its tripod, I struggled to keep my balance on the 7,000ft hillside above Yellowstone’s vast Lamar Valley. My ice boots slid on the slick slope. Dawn light was rising, a golden gleam wavering over winter mountains. It was April of 1995, and we were witness to the very first wolves returning to Yellowstone in 70 years. Fourteen wolves from Alberta, Canada, had been captured, radio-collared, and moved to acclimatisation pens in Yellowstone in January. These so-called founder wolves, a mix of adults and pups, began what would come to be recognized as the greatest conservation success story in America.

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