Humans have had a love/hate and fear/fascination with them for eons. The wolf howl is both chilling and inspiring. Our cherished dogs descend from the wolves that we invited to share our fire. Yet, the horror story features the werewolf, that wolf-human hybrid, that on a full moon becomes wolf and destroys the people he loves. We grew up knowing that the wolf eats Grandma in Little Red Riding Hood and tries to eat the Three Little Pigs. Fear dictates that we must destroy this species, yet he is no fairy tale to come back to life another day. Unless we fight to save them now, we risk silencing the wolf forever.
If you do nothing else on this page, watch this amazing video about the effect one animal has on the entire ecosystem!
(Click image to view the whole Infographic)
Has the Gray Wolf Recovered Enough?
The Gray Wolf is what most Americans think of when they think of a wolf. They can be black, gray or all white. They were common in the US but were decimated in most areas of the US in the 1920s-1930s but have begun to recover through a captive breeding program and careful reintroduction into the wild. They must have the protection needed to continue to reestablish their range.
The Gray wolf lives in packs of 7-8 animals which are led by a bonded pair of the mother and father. The rest of the pack is usually the older pups and the youngest pups. At maturity, the older pups may choose to leave the pack to start their own pack or they may stay with their parents. The relationships within packs are very strong.
The greatest potential for conflict between humans and wolves occurs between wolves and farmers or ranchers. However, with good management and proactive, nonlethal deterrents, conflicts that have resulted because of livestock loss can be minimized.
Facts About the Red Wolf
The Red Wolf
The Red Wolf is smaller than the Gray Wolf. They are gray-black with a reddish tint. They primarily eat small mammals such as rabbits and other rodents and may eat insects, berries and occasionally deer.
Like their cousin the gray wolf, they were hunted to the brink of extinction. They have been reintroduced into the wild in North Carolina from captive populations but they are still classified as critically endangered.
Facts About the Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf
*Update to the video. Current number of Mexican gray wolves in the wild is 97.
The Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf
Referred to as “El Lobo” (the Spanish word for wolf), the Mexican Gray Wolf is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf and is gray as their name implies but they also have light brown fur on their back.
At one time, they were a well-established species in the Southwest. By the mid 1970s, they were hunted to extinction in the wild, with the only remaining Mexican Gray Wolves living in zoos. However, the captive population was used to breed 11 Mexican Gray Wolves that were then released in 1998 in Arizona. The decision was controversial and opponents of the release used the old fears of the “Vicious Wolf” to spread myths about what the release would mean to residents and ranchers/farmers in the area. The good news is that the subsequent years were mostly non news about the released wolves except when they were the victims of violence.
There is hope that as the population fills out their range area, that they will provide balance in the ecosystem of the Southwest much like the Gray Wolves did in Yellowstone (see Video, When Wolves Change Rivers).
Creative Methods Used to Protect Ranging Livestock from Wolf Predation
How to Help Wolves
The best way to help save the wolves in the US is to become active politically to put pressure on the legislature to continue to protect the wolf from hunting. The populations cannot sustain the losses incurred when it’s open season on wolves. There are groups in the US that advocate legislatively for wolves and can guide you best in speaking up for the wolf. It is also important to share this information with others so that they understand fact from fiction and are aware of the important role the wolf plays in balancing the ecosystem. Show them the video, “When Wolves Change Rivers” and help change the future for the wolf.
“Fact vs. Fiction.” Defenders of Wildlife. N.p., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 03 Apr. 2017. <http://www.defenders.org/gray-wolf/fact-vs-fiction>.
“Basic Facts About Gray Wolves.” Defenders of Wildlife. N.p., 19 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2017. <http://www.defenders.org/gray-wolf/basic-facts>.
“Basic Facts About Mexican Gray Wolves.” Defenders of Wildlife. N.p., 30 Mar. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2017. <http://www.defenders.org/mexican-gray-wolf/basic-facts>.
“Basic Facts About Red Wolves.” Defenders of Wildlife. N.p., 13 Oct. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2017. <http://www.defenders.org/red-wolf/basic-facts>.
If you’re interested in following what topics we will introduce weekly, please sign up for our mailing list and you will be entered into a free giveaway of a beautiful, just published, photo book by Nat Geo of gorgeous wild animals. Entries will be accepted through 11:59 PM, Friday April 14, 2017 Pacific time or when we reach 100 entries, whichever comes first. One entry per person. No purchase necessary. Winner will be notified by email and has two weeks to respond with shipping address. Book will only be mailed to US and Canadian addresses. Void where prohibited.