Sequoia, a male gray wolf, leads his four pups to explore their habitat at the Oakland Zoo in California. (AP)

Sequoia, a male gray wolf, leads his four pups to explore their habitat at the Oakland Zoo in California. (AP)

Wolves once roamed most of the Northern Hemisphere. Orange shows where gray wolves once lived. (RB)

Wolves once roamed most of the Northern Hemisphere. Orange shows where gray wolves once lived. (RB)

Mexican gray wolves like this one have been blamed for killing nearly as many cows and calves in the first four months of 2019 as they did all of last year. (AP)

Mexican gray wolves like this one have been blamed for killing nearly as many cows and calves in the first four months of 2019 as they did all of last year. (AP)

A pair of red wolves huddles at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina. (AP)

A pair of red wolves huddles at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina. (AP)

Finding a wolf track like this in the snow near your house might make you a little uncomfortable. (AP)

Finding a wolf track like this in the snow near your house might make you a little uncomfortable. (AP)

Where Do Wolves Belong Now?

Posted: September 3, 2019

Wolves once inhabited almost all of the Northern Hemisphere. Do we really want to turn the clock back to that?! Yikes!

People have had conflicts over wolves since Europeans first arrived in America. Farmers didn’t want too many wolves around. It’s not hard to imagine why! Wolves are dangerous to people and their livestock. Government officials worked to control wolf populations.  

But in the late 1960s, authorities decided to go in reverse. They saw that wolves were in trouble. They said, “Protect them!” They spent lots of money and time to bring wolves back. For some wolves, this worked. Western gray wolves now number around 6,000 in the Northern Rockies, Pacific Northwest, and Western Great Lakes. These wolves were reintroduced in spots with lots of open space and plenty of prey. U.S. officials made an announcement in March: “These wolves don’t need protection anymore.”

But other wolves haven’t done so well. Mexican wolves live in desert mountain ranges where livestock graze. Red wolves roam in places where people farm. Both species are often illegally killed. People fear those wolf species will disappear. Should the government keep defending them? Ranchers say, “No!”—for all the same reasons they wanted wolves out in the first place.