A biologist turned photographer chronicles the lives of Yellowstone's iconic gray wolves.
Ronan Donovan is one of six photographers who contributed to National Geographic magazine's special issue on Yellowstone. Learn about the other five at natgeo.com/yellowstone.
Ronan Donovan’s love of the natural world was born, as he was, in rural Vermont. A biologist turned photographer and filmmaker, he went to Africa in 2011 to study wild chimpanzees in Uganda. His film work has aired on PBS’s Nature. For the Yellowstone issue of National Geographic, Donovan spent 2015 living in the national park and chronicling the life of one of its iconic species, the gray wolf.
Now based in Montana, Donovan describes the gray wolf as “an animal that resembles humans in many ways: social mammals, strong family bonds, top predators.” Reintroduced to Yellowstone in the mid-1990s after a 70-year absence, the wolves have thrived. To Donovan, they symbolize “wild places, places that haven’t been completely engulfed by Western civilization. ... They are wild, as we once were.”
The Mollie’s wolf pack investigates grizzly bear tracks in Yellowstone’s Pelican Valley. Wolves were reintroduced into the park beginning in 1995, and Yellowstone now has the full complement of large animals that existed there before Europeans arrived in North America.
A biologist with the Yellowstone Wolf Project uses a tranquilizer dart to immobilize wolves.
Yellowstone Wolf Project members begin processing captured wolves from the Junction Butte pack
... and the 8-Mile pack.
A gray wolf, Canis lupus