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Yellowstone's Interrelationships Between Predator and Prey
Starting in the 1920s predator control programs put in place by the US government eliminated the gray wolf from Yellowstone National Park. By 1926 all wolves had been exterminated from the area. The absence of this apex predator triggered an ecological disaster known as a trophic cascade: the removal of a top predator involving changes in the populations of predator and prey through the food chain, resulting in deleterious changes in the ecosystem. Almost every species in the park was affected by the wolves' absence, from the largest of bears to the smallest of fish. In 1995, after being absent for 70 years, the gray wolf was reintroduced back into Yellowstone through the Endangered Species Act, once again restoring balance to the ecosystem.
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
Despite Yellowstone's recovery, the fate of wolves across the United States still hangs in the balance. Each year, wolves are stripped of the federal protections found in the Endangered Species Act, bringing numerous issues for the protection of the gray wolf and the Mexican gray wolf. Without action, these keystone species could once again disappear from the places that need them most.
To help with this issue 5% from each sale of the series was donated to Yellowstone Forever to further their wolf research and monitoring programs.
I spent the summer of 2019 in Wyoming as a wildlife technician in Yellowstone National Park
DEFEND THE SACRED
Bears Ears National Monument was created by President Obama in December 2016 under the Antiquities Act, protecting 1.35 million acres of sprawling Utah wilderness. Many hold this land sacred, including Native American tribes and hundreds of plant and animal species. Now, just a year later, Trump has cut Bears Ears by 85%, shrinking it to just 201,397 acres. Without protection, destructive commercial activities such as logging, oil and gas extraction, and mining are once again opened up, threatening 100,000 archeological sites and the surrounding ecosystem. Currently, 27 national monuments are under review by the Trump administration, including Grand Staircase-Escalante which has been reduced by 50%. This has been “the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history.” The tribes will continue to fight Trump’s decisions in court. We must defend the lands we love, the untouched wilderness we have left, and the countless lives that live there. We must defend the sacred.
85for85 is an art activism project whose stories of ancestry, adventure, and conservation share raw experiences of the lands of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Representing writers, photographers, illustrators, and designers scattered around the United States, 85for85 unites creatives who care deeply about the protection of public lands together to make something for good.
Laurens art, "Defend the Sacred", was featured in 85for85
I designed and illustrated the front cover and 13 characters for A Rattler's Tale- an educative children's book about Arizona wildlife published in 2021
A sneak peek of a few of my illustrations!
Title: Midnight Conspiracy
By: Lauren Sarantopulos
Watercolor, acrylic, and gold leaf
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