Amazing Facts

Reason 1: Without wolves and other large predators, ecosystems can go haywire. A 2001 study found that when wolves went extinct in Yellowstone, for example, the moose population ballooned to five times its normal size and demolished woody vegetation where birds nested. As a result, several bird species were eliminated in the park.

Reason 2: Scavengers thrive when wolves are around. The species that help themselves to wolves' leftovers include (PDF) ravens, magpies, wolverines, bald eagles, golden eagles, three weasel species, mink, lynx, cougar, grizzly bear, chickadees, masked shrew, great gray owl, and more than 445 species of beetle.

Reason 3: Wolf kills are also good for the soil. A 2009 study in Michigan's Isle Royale National Park found that wolf-killed elk carcasses dramatically enhanced levels of nitrogen and other nutrients.

Reason 4: Wolf kills feed more animals than hunting by humans, since wolves scatter their carrion over the landscape. Wolf kills benefit (PDF) three times more species than human hunting kills. The carcass above was a bull elk killed by a pack of eight wolves in Agate Creek, Yellowstone. The skeleton was picked clean by wolves and scavengers in less than five days.

Reason 5: When wolves disappeared from Yellowstone, coyotes preyed on pronghorn almost to the point of no return. But since wolves have returned, the pronghorn have come back. In fact, pronghorns tend to give birth near wolf dens, since coyotes steer clear of those areas.

Reason 6: Deer and elk congregate in smaller groups (PDF) when wolves are around. This helps reduce the transmission of illnesses like Chronic Wasting Disease.

Reason 7: Chronic Wasting Disease is a major threat to elk and deer in the West. Wolves can help by reducing sick animals' lifespans, in turn limiting the amount of time they can spread infections.

Reason 8: Yellowstone elk are less likely to overgraze near rivers and streams—damaging fragile ecosystems—when wolves are in the neighborhood.

Reason 9: Wolves help protect against climate change. A 2005 UC Berkeley study in Yellowstone concluded that milder winters, a product of climate change, have led to fewer elk deaths. This left scavengers like coyotes and ravens scrambling for food, but the problem was far less pervasive in areas where wolves were around to hunt elk.

Reason 10: Wolf tourism is an economic boon (PDF). Restoration of wolves in Yellowstone has cost about $30 million, but it's brought in $35.5 million annual net benefit to the area surrounding the park.

Responses to "10 Reasons We Need Wolves"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I like this clip it is so moveing and the white wolf above is one of Wind Dancer wolves and Lorraine Smith's animals.

  2. Yolanda says:

    the white wolf pictured above the vid clip his name is Nakoa we is a windDancer wolf.

  3. This is a beautiful video. Too, bad some people do not appreciate them; the way they need to be respected.

  4. Judy says:

    Why can't I see the video??

  5. Anonymous says:

    From the moment I was old enough to understand the difference between wolves and dogs I have felt protective of wolves. Sence a wolf showed himself to me, looked me directly in the eyes I have known his spirit recognized mine. There was no fear in my heart, only kindred knowing. Thank you for this furthering of my understanding.

  6. Anonymous says:

    10 very sound reasons,and once you've heard wolves calling to one another,asI have had the privilege too,their communication remains with you. I can't see the Video either

  7. Anonymous says:

    I. Can't see the video either

  8. Excellent! Thank you for the good work and valuable research. :)

  9. Catherine Keohane-Johnson says:

    Beautiful story, the video was really touching. And the white wolf photographed is gorgeous.

  10. Thank you for all the excellent research ..
    Hopefully this is a real eye opener..

  11. Anonymous says:

    love wolves

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, My Grandsons will know the truth about wolves; and respect and love them as their Mother and I do.

  13. Cute little video of truth regarding wolves for children. Hope it has a positive affect.

  14. Cute little video of truth regarding wolves for children. Hope it has a positive affect.

  15. Anonymous says:

    How can it possibly have cost $30 million to restore a few wolves to Yellowstone!?!

  16. Unknown says:

    I have shared this to my page to encourage my friends to watch this brief insight to wolves. Very good video for everyone to.

  17. Unknown says:

    Well done, love the video. Education about the importance of wolves is all we have to teach people the truth!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Animals A to Z - Wolf: http://youtu.be/JVnUxW63gJs
    You tube link

  19. Anonymous says:


  20. Anonymous says:

    i love wolves and appreciate the enthusiasm with which this article was written, but i must point out that some of those reasons are pretty much the same, just worded differently or with different examples, like 2, 4 and 9 which talk about the benefit of other animals being able to feed on wolves leftovers, like 1 and 5 which both show how other species numbers can go haywire if wolves are removed (1 just shows how another species numbers jumped, while 5 shows how another species was almost killed off) like 6 and 7 which both talk about how wolves curb the spreading of disease and 1 and 3 both talk about the environment - it's like you really have 5 really good reasons with more different examples to back them up.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Elk were introduced back into kentucky a few years back and are thriving , hopefully the state will bring in wolf to keep population down the way nature intended it to

  22. Anonymous says:

    wolves are beautiful creatures we need to save them all from dying

  23. Anonymous says:

    Except it was elk not moose that were way over populated in Yellowstone....:-)

  24. Anonymous says:

    Wolves are actually peaceful creatures. We just make them sound like monsters.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this. Wolves have been greatly misunderstood throughout the years and been made out to be cruel and savage predators. 'Little Red Riding Hood' syndrome! - Recently saw a short documentary on 'How Wolves Save Rivers' and therefore the ecosystems which depend upon them.

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