Wolves Matter

Wolves Matter

Wolves are important to our ecosystems and perhaps the most misunderstood animal on our planet.

Did you know wolves…

  • are part of a cooperative group with multiple effective ways of communicating with each other
  • have an average of 5-8 members in a pack, and up to 20 or 30
  • weigh 1 lb at birth and can grow to 110 lbs
  • spend 1/4 of their life dependent on their parents and elders
  • can live up to 13 years in the wild and 16 in captivity
  • can sprint run up to 40 miles an hour and travel up to 120 miles in one day
  • can stand nose to tip of tail up to 6.5 feet

Common food

Ungulates (hoofed animals like deer, moose, caribou, elk, bison, musk-oxen)


  • dangerous: Wild wolves are generally afraid of people and avoid them.
  • livestock: In Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, where most wolves live,  1 cow out of every 44,853 and 1 in every 7,193 sheep were reported killed in 2014.
  • sport: Unlike humans, wolves do not kill for sport. Wolves and all other predators kill for sustenance and survival.
  • reintroduction: The wolves that were brought back to the West are the same as before. They are not supersize and more aggressive than those who lived there before reintroduction.
  • elk and deer: Elk, the primary prey of wolves in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, have substantially increased in population since wolves were reintroduced in 1995, the number of elk has substantially increased. But wolves have made elk more alert to danger and more challenging to hunt, causing resentment among some hunters.

(myths source:  living with wolves)

Main threats to survival

  • loss of habitat due to destruction, development and encroachment by humans
  • persecution by humans

Wolves matter

  • Strengthen Ungulates: Wolves cull sick, old and genetically inferior elk and deer, allowing the healthiest individuals to breed and perpetuate their species.
  • Wolves Feed Other Animals: The remains of a carcass left behind, unfinished by wolves, help feed grizzly bears, bald eagles, wolverines and many other scavengers.
  • Wolves Improve Riparian Areas: Wolves have redistributed the elk herds, allowing vegetation to recover along rivers and streams. More willows and aspens provide food for beavers. More beaver ponds benefit aquatic plants and animals. Shade from the trees cools the water, making the habitat better for trout.
  • Wolves Decrease Coyote Populations: Wolves kill coyotes, so rodent populations increase, benefiting struggling birds of prey. Also, with fewer coyotes, pronghorn antelope calves are less likely to be preyed upon.
  • Wolves Boost to Ecotourism: The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone has attracted 150,000 new visitors each year, adding $35-million to the local economy annually.

(Wolves matter source:  Living with Wolves)

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