Though people nearly hunted wolves to extinction in the lower 48 states, northern gray wolves have returned to the Great Lakes, the northern Rockies, California and the Pacific Northwest. But just as the U.S. was making progress for gray wolves, protections were stripped. In 2011, Congress ended protections in the northern Rockies, and in 2020 the Trump administration stripped wolves of their critical ESA protections across the country. Anti-wolf legislators and extremists have been on the offensive ever since.

Wolves play a key role in keeping ecosystems healthy. They help keep deer and elk populations in check, which can benefit many other plant and animal species. The carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, like grizzly bears and scavengers. Scientists are just beginning to fully understand the positive ripple effects that wolves have on ecosystems.

The Trump administration’s premature decision to strip gray wolves of their federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections was nothing less than a betrayal of wildlife and of the advocates who have spent decades helping bring wolves back from the brink of extinction. 

Now we have a chance to undo that damage: We must restore those protections and save these wolves from increasing attacks in states across the nation. We’re in court now to demand federal ESA protections be restored.

Image
Gray Wolf
Image Credit
Sarah Abrell

Tell the Biden administration to restore federal ESA protections

The past year has been heartbreaking for wolf lovers across the nation, as we’ve seen gray wolves stripped of their federal Endangered Species Act protections –threatening decades of progress toward recovery. 

Act Now!
Defenders' Impact

Defenders is working with ranchers across the West to develop and implement nonlethal deterrents, better animal husbandry practices and other innovative tools that minimize conflict and build social acceptance for wolves. We’ve helped hundreds of ranchers purchase turbo-fladry and livestock guard dogs, hire range riders and deploy scare devices to keep wolves away from livestock. 

We also monitor state and federal legislatures and wildlife agencies closely to track potential threats to wolf populations and recovery. Our experts and policy analysts engage with officials to discuss the problem and, where possible, offer scientifically-based and responsible solutions. If these measures fail, and laws are being violated by extreme wolf policies, we turn to the courts.

Image

Tell the FWS why wolves should be relisted

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently found substantial and credible information indicating that a relisting action may be warranted. 

Submit a Comment!
Threats

Wolves are threatened by conflict with humans and intolerance, and the loss of both habitat and protections under state and federal endangered species laws.

Protection Status
Endangered Species Act
IUCN Red List
CITES
 Endangered
 Least Concern
 Appendix II

The gray wolf was delisted throughout its historic range, with the exception of the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwestern states. 

What You Can Do

Help us spread positive and accurate information about wolves. Speak up for wolves and ask the Biden administration to relist wolves on the U.S. Endangered Species Act. If you live in wolf habitat,  practice coexistence techniques.

Facts
Latin Name
Canis lupus
Size
26-32 inches at the shoulder and 55-130 pounds, with males larger than females
Lifespan
7-8 years 
Range/Habitat

The gray wolf’s range has been reduced to Canada, Alaska, the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Wolves require large areas of contiguous habitat that can include forests and mountainous terrain with access to prey, protection from excessive persecution and areas for denning and taking shelter.

Population

There are an estimated 7,000 to 11,200 gray wolves in Alaska, 3,700 in the Great Lakes region, 1,675 in the Northern Rockies and 275 in the Pacific Northwest.

Behavior

Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of seven to eight animals on average. Packs include the mother and father wolves (called the alphas), their pups and older offspring. The alpha female and male are typically the pack leaders that track and hunt prey, choose den sites and establish the pack's territory.

Reproduction

Breeding season occurs once a year late January through March. Pups are born blind and defenseless. The pack cares for the pups until they fully mature at about 10 months of age when they can hunt on their own. Once grown, young wolves may disperse. Dispersing wolves have been known to travel 500 miles or more in search of a mate and new territory.
Mating Season: January or February.
Gestation: 63 days
Litter size: 4-7 pups
 

Diet

Wolves eat ungulates, or large hoofed mammals, like elk, deer, moose and caribou, as well as beaver, rabbits and other small prey. Wolves are also scavengers and often eat animals that have died due to other causes. 

News

Image
Wolf in Green Grass with Pup
Portland, ORE.

Authorization to Kill Six More Wolves From Oregon’s Lookout Mountain Pack Announced

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced this week they are authorizing the killing of up to six additional members of the Lookout
Image

Wildlife and Wild Places

Image
Get Updates and Alerts