America’s wolves were nearly eradicated in the 20th century. Now, after a remarkable recovery in parts of the country, wolves are once more in grave peril.
Despite the ecological value and the sheer natural beauty of the wolf, millions were trapped, poisoned, or shot to death during the first half of the 20th century, victims of unfounded fear and ignorance. Ultimately, nearly all wolves were exterminated throughout the lower 48 states, and their range was reduced severely on the Canadian prairies. Fortunately for the wolf, however, the 1960s and 1970s launched the modern environmental era, bringing about landmark conservation statutes including the Endangered Species Act, the cornerstone of America’s wildlife laws. Shortly after the Act’s passage in 1973, the wolf was identified as endangered or threatened in the lower 48 states and declared a candidate for species recovery.