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Daily Newscasts

Wolf-Watching Tourism Possibility for Wyoming?

December 5, 2011

JACKSON, Wyo. - People in the Rockies and from around the country are willing to pay just for the chance to see a wolf in its natural habitat. That's what a guide has discovered, and the tours he and his wife offer in Yellowstone National Park are always booked.

Nathan Varley says the waiting list of clients demonstrates there is economic potential. That's something he says Wyoming should support, even as a plan is being finalized to shoot wolves in most of the state, and without limits. He says the tourism angle needs a closer look, especially as his clients are fascinated by the stories of individual wolves.

"They live a very dangerous life, and that lends itself to the drama quite a bit. And they have a real complex social system, too. So, it's easy to kind of see them as a family."

Montana's focus on wolf policy has been on hunting to reduce the number of animals. Varley says it's important to understand that wolves have positive economic value that reaches beyond hunting, and Big Sky Country should tap into it, just as Yellowstone National Park does.

"It's everything like whale-watching, or bird-watching, or any of the 'watching' pastimes that have become more prevalent and commonplace."

He says wolf-watching tourism provides much-needed off-season revenue for his business. He calls winter the prime wolf-viewing time.

The next Yellowstone tour Varley is leading is in mid-January. Details are at

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY