Gray wolves range in color from grizzled gray or black to all-white.
Though humans nearly hunted wolves to extinction in the lower 48 states, northern gray wolves have returned to the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.
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.
Defenders has pioneered practical solutions to minimize conflicts between wolves and livestock. We’re 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. Over the years, 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. By minimizing conflicts with livestock and the lethal backlash against wolves that often follows, these proactive methods help protect both livestock and wolves.
We also monitor state and federal legislatures and wildlife agencies closely to track potential threats to wolf populations and recovery. When a dangerous bill or policy change is proposed, we act quickly to inform and mobilize our supporters in the region, encouraging them to contact their state officials and speak out against the proposal.
Our experts and policy analysts also 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, our last resort is to turn to the courts for protection.