How wolves change rivers in 2017

River Bennett

After you’ve stepped out and started pursuing a dream, whether it’s a creative business, an idea or even motherhood, questioning oneself is a disturbing thread that can weave itself throughout the journey of your endeavour. Self-doubt has the power to dismantle the intended or initial dream or idea. Or, it has the power to push you towards the vision and end goal. 

After a few years of investing into from concept to now, and after a whole lot of moments of doubting myself, I stumbled across a YouTube documentary that took my breath away and confirmed yet again that TheWolfpackMrs community is one that is alive and well and more influential than we think.  It was a short documentary about how Wolves change rivers. 


"One of the most exciting scientific findings of the past half century has been the discovery of widespread trophic cascades. A trophic cascade is an ecological process which starts at the top of the food chain and tumbles all the way down to the bottom. And the classic example is what happened in the Yellowstone National Park in the United States when wolves were reintroduced in 1995.

Now, we all know that wolves kill various species of animals, but perhaps we’re slightly less aware that they give life to many others. 

Before the wolves turned up – they’d been absent for 70 years – the numbers of deer (because there had been nothing to hunt them) had built up and built up in the Yellowstone Park, and despite efforts by humans to control them they’d managed to reduce much the vegetation there to almost nothing. They had just grazed it away. 

But as soon as the wolves arrived, even though they were few in number they started to have the most remarkable effects.

First, of course, they killed some of the deer but that wasn’t the major thing. Much more significantly, they radically changed the behavior of the deer. The deer started avoiding certain parts of the park – the places where they could be trapped most easily – particularly the valleys and the gorges and immediately those places started to regenerate. In some areas, the height of the trees quintupled in just six years. Bare valley sides quickly became forests of aspen and willow and cottonwood. And as soon as that happened, the birds started moving in. The number of songbirds and migratory birds started to increase greatly. The number of beavers started to increase because beavers like to eat the trees. And beavers, like wolves, are ecosystem engineers. They create niches for other species. And the dams they built in the rivers provided habitats for otters and muskrats and ducks and fish and reptiles and amphibians. The wolves killed coyotes and as a result of that, the number rabbits and mice began to rise which meant more hawks more weasels more foxes more badgers. Ravens and bald eagles came down to feed on the carrion that the wolves had left. Bears fed on it, too. And their population began to rise as well partly also because there were more berries growing on the regenerating shrubs. And the bears reinforced the impact of the wolves by killing some of the calves of the deer.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. 

The wolves changed the behavior of the rivers. They began to meander less. There was less erosion. The channels narrowed. More pools formed. More riffle sections. All of which were great for wildlife habitats. The rivers changed in response to the wolves. And the reason was that the regenerating forests stabilized the banks so that they collapsed less often. So the rivers became more fixed in their course. 

Similarly, by driving the deer out of some places, and the vegetation recovering on the valley side, there was less soil erosion because the vegetation stabilized that as well. So the wolves, small in number, transformed not just the ecosystem of the Yellowstone National Park – this huge area of land - but also, its physical geography."

So after watching this and seeing the power of what a small group of wolves achieved for the greater good I couldn't help but think about all of you.

All of you – those who are changing the behaviour of the creative rivers and roads out there - there is a renewed flow within your community because you have stepped out and done what it is you are on the planet to do. You didn't ignore the prompting anymore. You worked hard and continue to stay focused. 

There is less erosion in family and community as you have invested into your children's lives and the lives around you. 

The banks have collapsed less often and the rivers - the creative rivers of the Arts - are more fixed on their course and the flow has a renewed ease that has impacted more than you will ever know. 

So friends, readers, those who have followed TheWolfpackMrs journey from the beginning, and to all the lone wolves that have now joined this stunning community, know that what you are doing is worth every minute. Every sacrifice you have made, the seen and unseen. The late nights of feeding the baby and doing the numbers on your business is worth it. 

As a community of people who are passionate about the Arts, passionate about humanity, and passionate about raising strong intelligent children who are going to lead our future world well, I believe we are about to see even more significant days.

We are influencing more people than you realize and I am believing this year, 2017, that you and your families will excel, that together we can keep focused on what we are on the planet to do, and create. As we do this we will change the very environment around us and create pathways for others to do the same. 

Love you all. 

River XO


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