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Resilient Habitats:
Gray Wolf

Take action: Protect the gray wolf and other endangered animals. grey wolf

Wolves are among the most charismatic and controversial animals in America. The howl of the wolf is emblematic of our country's last wild areas, a reminder of strength and beauty of the natural world.

Traveling in packs through the wilderness, wolves are the oldest and largest ancestor of domestic dogs. These animals once ranged from coast to coast and from Alaska to Mexico in North America. However, wolves have been victims of prejudice since their early encounters with people. Targeted by bounty hunters for their pelts since the early 1900's, wolves have been poisoned, trapped, and shot throughout American history. By the 1970's in the contiguous U.S., wolves remained only in remote areas of Minnesota and Michigan.

The tide started to turn when Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act in 1973 and officially protected the wolf that same year. Since then wolf populations have rebounded. In response to calls from the Sierra Club and others, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service re-introduced wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990's. Today, there are about 1,800 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and some 4,000 in the Great Lakes states.

Wolves are vitally important to maintaining the natural balance, culling out weak and sick animals to keep populations of elk and deer healthy and in check. The rippling benefits of wolf reintroduction can be seen throughout the region-- from the reappearance of willow and aspen trees, to the return of beavers, and increased populations of red foxes.

Wolves are even helping local economies as people from across the country come to view these inspiring wild creatures.

Nevertheless, many challenges -- new and old -- threaten the wolves. Habitat loss, unregulated hunting, and negative stereotypes continue to reduce their numbers. Worse still, Congress recently revoked the endangered status for gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah, the first time Congress has ever removed a species from protection in this fashion. Despite a slow comeback in the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and southwestern United States, these creatures are still absent from Northeast, and southern Rockies.

Currently, the Sierra Club is working to:

  • Defend wolf populations from continued threats from politicians
  • Protect wolf habitat in the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana
  • Improve state management of wolves in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana
  • Educate the public and work to dispel false stereotypes and myths about the wolf
  • Defend the Endangered Species Act, our nation’s premier law protecting wolves and other imperiled wildlife, from assaults by Big Oil and other industries


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