YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK - The man in charge of restoring wolves to Yellowstone National Park is retiring.
Doug Smith was hired by the park in 1994 and became director of the wolf project the following year.
That year, 1995, he supervised the release of the first wolves in the park.
Through nearly three decades of managing wolves, Smith — and the National Park Service — have been praised and cursed for their wolf recovery efforts.
Smith, well aware of the criticism, told MTN News in 2020 that he still believed Montana residents could come to an agreement on how to manage wolves.
“The way we like to look at it is talking to people. Why do you fear wolves, why do you think wolves are bad? Can we share the landscape? Places like Yellowstone are not human-dominated landscapes. What’s wrong with them there? Granted, they spill out and they’re across the state of Montana. That’s a harder thing to manage, but we can do it,” he said.
Smith said then that the three greatest fears about wolves never materialized. He said some predicted wolves would wipe out the elk population, that people would get injured or killed, and that the livestock industry would be decimated.
Smith’s last day at work is Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022.