Save America's Wolves

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The wolf is a remarkable species that symbolizes all things natural, wild and free. Wolves once reigned atop magnificent and diverse ecosystems across North America, helping to maintain nature’s critical balance on this continent.


Despite the ecological value and the sheer natural beauty of the wolf, millions were trapped, poisoned, or shot to death during the first half of the 20th century, victims of unfounded fear and ignorance. Ultimately, nearly all wolves were exterminated throughout the lower 48 states, and their range was reduced severely on the Canadian prairies. Fortunately for the wolf, however, the 1960s and 1970s launched the modern environmental era, bringing about landmark conservation statutes including the Endangered Species Act, the cornerstone of America's wildlife laws. Shortly after the Act's passage in 1973, the wolf was identified as endangered or threatened in the lower 48 states and declared a candidate for species recovery.

Archived Wolf Hunt Photo,  John C. H. Grabill, LOC

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Wolf Recovery

By the mid-1990's, Defenders of Wildlife and our allies celebrated our success at helping the federal government achieve the now-historic reintroduction of gray wolves from western Canada to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho and the reintroduction of the Mexican wolf to the American Southwest.

Rodger releasing a wolf in Yellowstone

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Challenges to the Wolf's Survival

Wolf recovery is at a crossroads in the lower 48 states, where continued hostility toward wolves comes at a time when their growing numbers are beginning to disqualify them from further federal protections.

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Regional wolf conservation efforts

Working with Ranchers and Communities

As wolf populations continue to grow, incidents of wolves killing livestock will inevitably increase. While these losses are a tiny fraction of the losses that ranchers sustain, we recognize that successful wolf recovery depends on local community acceptance. Defenders is therefore compensating ranchers for wolf-related losses, educating the public to dispel myths and half-truths about wolves, and engaging members of the ranching community as partners to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts.

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Ensuring the Future of Wolves

Defenders of Wildlife has long championed the wolf's recovery, and continues to be the most persistent, consistent and successful advocate of wolf recovery and protection in America since the mid-1980s.

As we look to the future, Defenders is poised to undertake a new phase of wolf restoration and protection work, designed to ensure the wolf's long term survival through and beyond the 21st century.

What You Can Do

….and much, much more. See our Wildlife Action Center for more ideas!

Wolf. Michael Quinton, National Geographic Stock

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