What Draws Tourists to Our First National Park?

The results of a Yellowstone study are in, survey says: wildlife watching is the number one draw for tourists.

Yellowstone’s Superintendent is anxious to find out who shot one of the park’s most famous animals: a white wolf.

News 13’s Penny Preston talked to people in Cody about the case on Monday.

If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone, you’ve probably seen this:
• Crowds of tourists pointing, looking, photographing, and scoping bears, bison, wolves and on this spring day: eagles and swans.
The park supported a scientific visitor survey in 2016, to find out what people think of Yellowstone.

Superintendent Dan Wenk reported the number one draw to the world’s first national park is not Old Faithful, or the scenery.

“Why do visitors come? Top reason is to view wildlife. Grizzly bears, wolves it is one of the few places in the country where you can have a reliable chance to see wolves and grizzly bears in the wild.”

Wenk comes to Cody every spring to talk to the Cody Chamber of Commerce about the park.

On this Monday, the top subject on his mind was Yellowstone’s wildlife, particularly the white wolf, most often seen in the Wyoming part of the park.

Park law enforcement believes the alpha female of the canyon pack was shot near Gardiner in the northern part of Yellowstone April 10th or 11th.

She was dying when park officials had to put her down. They’re offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooter.

“It was an illegal shooting of a wolf, whether it happened outside of the park in Montana, or the wolf came into the park after being shot, or it was shot in the park, either case it was an illegal shooting of a wolf.”

Wenk pointed out the 12 year old female was very old for a wild wolf, and had produced at least twenty pups in her life. She was one of three white wolves in the park and was photographed a lot.

“When you’re a white wolf, you get a lot of attention; it was a very well-known wolf.”

Park investigators are working on this case.

“We’re investigating it to the greatest extent and to determine what happened to the wolf, and if we can identify who shot the wolf, we will pursue that.”

Wenk also talked about record visitation in Yellowstone last year and the year before. He pointed out the greatest growth occurring in April, May, September and October as the best times to see wildlife in the park.

If watching wildlife is the number one attraction to Yellowstone, what is number two?
• Viewing natural scenery.

Only 24% of the people who responded to the study said they came to see the geysers and thermal features.