2 days ago
Photo by James Balog @james_balog | When I photographed this gray wolf back in the early 1990s for Survivors, my series on endangered wildlife, there were around 1,000 left in the contiguous United States. In 1996, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing gray wolves to central Idaho and Yellowstone. Thanks to their protected status, more than 5,000 now roam the lower 48.
But this spring the service announced that it plans to propose removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list and "return management of the species to the states and tribes." The Center for Biological Diversity told NPR in March that the proposal will “all but ensure that wolves are not allowed to recover in the Adirondacks, southern Rockies, and elsewhere that scientists have identified suitable habitat.” Meanwhile, Mexican wolves once numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the American Southwest. In 1975, the last seven remaining in the wild were captured and bred to save the species. Today, just 150 exist in the wild, where they’re defined as a "nonessential experimental population," a status that affords them only partial protection. And there are only 44 red wolves left in North Carolina, the only place they exist in the world. Some researchers estimate that they could go extinct within eight years. Wolves do not have a voice. People do. You can “adopt” a wolf, donate to organizations protecting endangered wildlife, and tell your friends and family about what’s happening to this ancient ancestor of wo/man's best friend.