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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Wolves kill, devour elk on Montana school’s football field

A Yellowstone National Park ranger oversees the removal of a cow elk that was killed by a pack of wolves on the Gardiner football field.  (Courtesy of Jim Baldwin)
By Brett French Billings Gazette

BILLINGS – A wolf-killed cow elk carcass was hauled off a Montana school’s football field on April 12, just one of the unusual incidents that comes with having Yellowstone National Park as a neighbor.

Gardiner Public Schools superintendent/principal Jim Baldwin posted a photo on Facebook of a park ranger standing over the picked-over elk carcass as it was being loaded onto a truck. Removal kept other scavengers from gathering.

The 8-Mile pack was credited with the nighttime kill, leaving the site just before dawn. It is the largest pack in the park, featuring six adults and 15 yearlings.

Having wolves so close to humans comes with concerns. If the wolves don’t show fear of humans, they may be hazed by park staff shooting rubber bullets or cracker shells. This pack, however, “exhibited natural wary and wild wolf behavior by traveling quickly away from the carcass, which was mostly consumed, and returned to the park,” according to a park spokesperson.

“It is common for wildlife to move through and adjacent to the Gardiner community given its location at the doorstep of a national park,” said Linda Veress, a Yellowstone public affairs officer. “It’s common for elk, bison and pronghorn to be at the school grounds, less so bears and wolves. It is very rare that we document wolves within the town’s developed footprint over the last 28 years. Very seldom, if ever, does park staff need to deal with bears and bison on school grounds.”

The school serves about 60 students from kindergarten through high school with a staff of about 20. Gardiner, population around 700, sits on Yellowstone’s northern border and is split by the Yellowstone River. The North Entrance provides access to the park’s headquarters at nearby Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.