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The Challenge and Opportunity of Recovering Wolf Populations

L. David Mech1


Abstract: The gray wolf once inhabited a wide variety of habitats throughout most of the northern hemisphere north of the 20°N latitude. Because the animal preyed on livestock and competed with humans for wild prey, it was extirpated from much of its range outside of wilderness areas. Environmental awareness in the late 1960s brought for the wolf legal protection, increased research, and favorable media coverage. The species has increased in both Europe and North America, is beginning to reoccupy semiwilderness and agricultural land, and is causing increased damage to livestock. Because of the wolf's high reproductive rate and long dispersal tendencies, the animal can recolonize many more areas. In most such areas control will be necessary, but the same public sentiments that promoted wolf recovery reject control. If wolf advocates could accept control by the public rather than by the government, wolves could live in far more places. Insistence on government control discourages some officials and government agencies from promoting recovery. The use of large- or small-scale zoning for wolf management may help resolve the issue. Public education is probably the most effective way to minimize the problem and maximize wolf recovery, but the effort must begin immediately.
This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication LDM0137):
Mech, L. David.  1995.  The challenge and opportunity of recovering wolf 
     populations.  Conservation Biology 9(2):270-278.

This resource should be cited as:

Mech, L. David.  1995.  The challenge and opportunity of recovering wolf 
     populations.  Conservation Biology 9(2):270-278.  Jamestown, ND: 
     Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/cowolf/index.htm 
     (Version 16JUN2000).

Table of Contents


1 National Biological Service, Patuxent Environmental Science Center, Laurel, MD 20708, U.S.A.
Current address: North Central Forest Experiment Station, 1992 Folwell Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108, U.S.A.
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