WildEarth Guardians

A Force for Nature

Select Page

Photo Credit: Jackson Hole Magazine

Humans and wolves history: from destruction to protection and back again

Humans Versus Wolves: A History

Europeans brought a “Little Red Riding Hood”-style intolerance for wolves with them to North America, resulting in the near-annihilation of wolves.

In 1630, only a decade after coming to the continent, settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed laws that awarded a bounty to anyone who killed a wolf. In the western U.S., wolf killing reached a high point in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Both private citizens and the federal government took part in the slaughter using traps, guns, poisons, and snares.

By the 1940s and 1950s, wolves were virtually eradicated from the lower 48 states. The gray wolf was among the first species protected under the Endangered Species Act after it passed in 1973.

In the western United States, gray wolves live in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California. Gray wolves are beginning to disperse into other Western states, occasionally traveling to Utah and Colorado as well. New Mexico and Arizona are home to the critically imperiled subspecies of gray wolf, the Mexican wolf.

In recent years, however, wolf preservation efforts have come under attack. Under increasing pressure from a few hostile but powerful groups, including the livestock industry and some trophy hunting and gun advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has attempted to strip away wolves’ protections. In response to legal victories overturning those efforts, Congress stripped some wolves of protections in 2011.

With more power in the hands of states hostile to native carnivores, including Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, we have seen a return to the unsustainable violence against wolves that nearly eliminated them from the continental U.S. in the first place.

Defend the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act is our country’s most essential environmental law protecting plants and animals, yet some members of Congress want to weaken the law. Tell Congress you value native wildlife and want to see all imperiled species protected.

SEND A LETTER

How You Can Help

Help protect the incredible, vulnerable wildlife of the West! Be a guardian for the wild by joining the conversation, learning about current issues, and making your voice heard. Together, we're a powerful force for nature.

Recent Stories From Wildlife

gray wolf tim springer wildearth guardians

Save the Wolves, Save the Wild

April 19, 2019

Anyone who values the wildness of America, who wants intact ecosystems, who believes native species belong, or who wants the opportunity to someday hear a wolf howling needs to step up and oppose this wolf delisting

Read more >

Grizzly Guardian

August 22, 2018

Coming full circle in the battle to protect the West’s wildest bruin

Read more >
whitewater canyon gila wilderness tom blackwell flickr wildearth guardians
Equilibrium
Jul 16, 2018
wolf prints madeleine carey wildearth guardians
Looking for lobos
Mar 17, 2018
bald eagle endangered species act mick thompson flickr WildEarth Guardians

Why the Endangered Species Act matters

January 1, 2018

The Endangered Species Act, passed nearly unanimously in 1973, is one of our nation’s most important and successful laws. Here are a few reasons why.

Read more >

Wildlife Press

Stand up for what’s right

The Santa Fe New Mexican | Dec 15, 2018

Given the current political climate, accountability may seem like a thing of the past. But the truth is, breaking the law has consequences. After a long and opaque process, the saga of Craig Thiessen, a rancher from Kansas who was grazing cattle on the Gila National Forest and intentionally killed a juvenile endangered Mexican gray wolf (“Advocates want rancher’s forest permit pulled,” June 24), came to the only just conclusion: In late November, the U.S. Forest Service revoked his public lands grazing permit.

Read more >

All Wildlife Op-Eds

Time for Game and Fish to dump trapping
Albuquerque Journal | Aug 31, 2018
Valuable wolf now refugee, hostage
The Albuquerque Journal | Feb 24, 2018
Don’t Fear Wolves and Grizzlies — Respect Them
High Country News | Jun 16, 2017

Court halts timber activity in Southwest over threatened owl

Star Tribune | Sep 19, 2019

A U.S. judge has halted tree-cutting activities across thousands of square miles of the Southwest until federal agencies can get a better handle on how to monitor the population of a threatened owl.

Read more >

All Wildlife In the News