Since the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, in 1995, the elk population has been on decline. Before the reintroduction, elk numbers in and around the park were a staggering 19,000. Eventually leading to an all time low count off roughly 3,000 elk in 2013. But, thanks to management of the wolves and the elk population, the scales are starting to even out....slightly.

According to the latest elk survey by the Northern Yellowstone Cooperative Group

The annual winter survey of the northern Yellowstone elk population on Jan. 15 and 16, 2018. The survey, using two airplanes, was conducted by staff from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the National Park Service.

Staff counted 7,579 elk, including 1,838 elk (24%) inside Yellowstone National Park and 5,741 elk (76%) north of the park. Survey conditions were generally favorable across the region.

The 2018 count was 42% higher than the 2017 survey results of 5,349 elk and was 94% higher than the lowest count of 3,915 elk in 2013. This year’s count of 7,579 was the highest since 9,545 elk were counted in 2005. The long-term average of observed elk numbers since surveys began in 1976 is 10,634 elk, with a peak high count of 19,045 elk in 1994.

The purpose of this survey was to estimate overall elk numbers and population trends. A separate survey occurs in March with the objective of estimating calf recruitment and bull ratios.