Rangers of Yellowstone
By Ted Ryan
It was finally summer and Jane would embark
on a family vacation to Yellowstone Park.
They packed up the wagon with equipment to camp:
the tent, the stove, the candle lamp.
And hit the road for the great outdoors,
Jane and her family, a family of explorers.
They drove by meadows, past mountains so tall,
they drove by rivers and a great waterfall.
Jane was amazed, astonished, delighted
and couldn’t sit still. She was very excited.
Jane asked her father when they got to the park,
“Can we go for a hike before it gets dark?”
“First things first, we set up the site
and then we’ll go hiking as long as it’s light.”
They setup the tent and fetched some water
and set off exploring, just father and daughter.
It was the prettiest place that Jane had seen,
a world of pure nature, a landscape of green.
A crystal clear river and a rainbow of flowers,
Jane was in heaven, “I could play here for hours!”
When off in the distance a dark figure trotted
and Jane froze in terror of what she had spotted.
A giant grey wolf with fangs made to bite,
took one look at Jane and slinked out of sight.
“What if the wolf comes back?” she cried
and clung like a boa to her father’s side.
“We’ll be alright,” he said with a grin.
“He’s not after us, we snuck up on him.
Wolves aren’t the monsters we’re taught to fear.
They’re keepers of this land. We want the wolves here.
Now these aren’t the puppies that we keep as pets,
but the wolf needs more credit than the wolf often gets.
There once was a time when wolves ruled this plain,
at the tippity top of nature’s food chain.
For thousands of years, nearly forever,
nature was able to work here together.
Then ranchers came here with sheep and cattle
and when wolves ate the livestock the ranchers went to battle.
They killed off the wolves, one by one
and thought to themselves a good deed had been done.
For wolves, they thought, were mean and scary
and had no business on their peaceful prairie.
But then something happened, something quite strange,
the land all around them started to change.
As soon as the wolves began to disappear,
for some strange reason there were much more deer.
Too many deer, they could barely keep tally
and all those deer were changing the valley.
The giant herds ate the grass to the nub
and ate every berry off of every berry shrub.
They ate all the saplings, the little baby trees
and when the food was gone many deer got disease.
And everything you see was reduced to bare ground
and even the deer wished the wolves were around.”
“But don’t wolves eat the deer?” Jane asked her dad.
“Don’t wolves eating deer make the other deer sad?”
“Yes, I am sure it hurts a great deal.
Nothing wants to be another something’s meal.
But it’s all part of life and nature’s great beauty
and we now know the wolves have a serious duty.
When the wolves came back it was really amazing,
they starting eating deer so there were less deer for grazing.
They chased them up mountains from the valley below
and without hungry deer the grasses could grow.
Flowers sprung up and bushes of briar
and trees in the valley grew four times higher.
All sorts of plants grew without the herds
and with new tall forests, home came the birds.
Home came the beavers who love chomping wood
and building their dams did even more good.
For beavers flood rivers with their castles of logs
which makes homes for ducks, for muskrats and frogs.
The wolves ate coyotes which was also quite nice
and gave a fighting chance to rabbits and mice.
Which happen to be tasty to badgers and weasels,
to hawks, to fox, to owls and eagles.
So many creatures with resource to share
now that there weren’t so many deer everywhere.
And after all, don’t feel bad for the deer.
They got even stronger with a predator to fear.
And the wolf pack flourished, for this is their home
and taught us that nature is best left alone.
So don’t look at wolves as some terrible danger.
Think of them as Yellowstone’s original park ranger.”
“So long Ranger Wolf,” Jane yelled and waved.
“I’m happy you’re home, and Yellowstone’s been saved.”
And as Jane walked toward camp she couldn’t help see
that every pretty flower and every tall tree,
Every frog that swims, every duck that quacks,
every rabbit that hops, every beaver that stacks,
All the birds that fly and critters that crawl
depend on each other and the wolves most of all.