Elizabeth Melton Parsons


North American Gray Wolf


UPDATE: I watched this beautiful YouTube video How Wolves Change Rivers and wanted to share it with you. It was brought to my attention by fellow bloggers The Journal of Wall Grimm and closetoeighty

gray wolf

These beautiful animals were recently removed from the endangered species list, making way for the hunting of them this fall. A judge has temporarily put them back on the endangered list and the hunt has been canceled. In light of this new development, I thought I’d post an older article I’d written on them. 

The North American Gray Wolf

I see the North American Gray Wolf as a beautiful and majestic creature that deserves our dedication to its survival just as any other animal on this earth. Due to misconceptions and fear, this majestic animal has been hunted to near extinction.

During the 1900’s the gray wolf was almost wiped out. It’s on the US endangered species list, but there have been moves in some states to have it removed. In Yellowstone National Park, the last remaining gray wolf was killed in 1926. The loss of the gray wolf from Yellowstone was caused by widespread elimination by humans who perceived the wolves as a danger to livestock and family. With the wolves gone, the elk in the park so dramatically increased as to cause a severe adverse affect on other species in the park, both plant and animal.

There has never been a documented case of serious injury or death from a gray wolf attack on humans in North America. This isn’t so with domestic dogs. Between 1979 and 1996 there were 301 documented cases of deaths in the US by domestic dog attacks. I’m sure this number has risen since 1996.

In 1995 and 1996 there was a reintroduction of the gray wolf to Yellowstone in spite of much opposition. Congress cut appropriations to the Fish and Wildlife Service expressly to prohibit the reintroduction. This attempt failed because private wildlife organizations raised $100,000, which allowed the project to proceed.

Ranchers worried that the reintroduction of the gray wolf would cause them financial ruin because of the hunting of the wolves on livestock.  A legitimate concern in their mind. Gray wolves do kill livestock, but this doesn’t happen as often as one might think. They actually prefer wild prey. To alleviate concerns, the Defenders of Wildlife agreed to compensate ranchers for any documented loss of livestock due to wolf kills. There have been very few claims filed.

The project for the reintroduction of the Gray Wolf to Yellowstone has been successful and I hope it will continue to be.

I found a poll on a site not long ago that asked this question:

If the Fish and Wildlife Service predicted a human death by wolf attack, would any of the defenders of the reintroduction of the gray wolf to Yellowstone change their opinion?

I would certainly not change my opinion. Bears attack, seriously injure, and kill humans every year, but I don’t see anyone screaming for the elimination of bears from North America.

If I were to be hiking, I’d much rather surprise a gray wolf in the woods than a bear. I think my chances of survival would be much higher with the wolf. How about you?



Author: Elizabeth Melton Parsons

I'm a novelist, poet, and artist. I love books, nature, art, and gardening. I'm a rock hound and there's a photo of me with a cool fossil rock on my about page, I take a lot of nature pictures. The background here is one of mine. Unfortunately I recently lost my wonderful husband, but I'm grateful to have the blessing of two beautiful sons. elizabethmeltonparsons.wordpress.com is © Elizabeth Melton Parsons 2007-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elizabeth Melton Parsons with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

14 thoughts on “North American Gray Wolf

  1. “Bears attack, seriously injure, and kill humans every year, but I don’t see anyone screaming for the elimination of bears from North America.”

    But unlike wolves, bears don’t eat flesh. Actually, I agree that gray wolves are being misunderstood mostly due to their roles in traditional literature. They are such majestic creatures; we should definitely support their existence.


  2. Call Walt Disney, we have another one romanticizing the animals, dummy.


  3. Well Jason, Maybe if you were more of a romantic and a compassionate person you might beable to see past your own nose and see how beautiful these creatures really are….
    Are you animal person? Probably not that’s why your so sarcastic about these animals being slaughtered, to you their probably just some dumb stupid animal, right?
    Well your wrong they’ve been around alot longer than you or me and there are alot of people out there that will protect them like me!!!!
    Maybe if you opened your eyes you might even see them the way others do and you might even find that you have a heart after all.
    Think about it………..


  4. How do you decide which animal to protect? Do you protect the Moose that is hunted by a pack of wolves in the middle of winter in snow that doesn’t allow it to move, or do you just classify that as “nature”. Do you protect the whitetail deer that gets chased down, hamstrung, and has to watch the coyote eat it from the back forward until it dies or do you call that nature. Do you protect the lynx that has a kit mortality rate of nearly 80% due to other predators including the mythical fisher or once again is that nature. What about starvation, disease, what about the notion that habit is and area designed to sustain a specific population of animal? NATURE IS NOT PRETTY, THINGS DIE. You idealists hide behind your city or suburban wall in shock and disbelief that animals kill, and eat, and utilize each other for sustinance. You lose that notion as you leisurly stroll through the isles of your organic food stores. My heart is full of love for ever animal I have killed to feed my family, for every animal I have trapped to sell the fur to provide for my family, and for every animal that continues to reproduce and allow me the opportunity to continue what I do. Don’t worry about me.


  5. Hello, Jason and thank you for the comments. Your question has a very simple answer:

    “How do you decide which animal to protect?”

    You protect those that are near extinction so they are still around for future generations. I don’t quite understand your anger with my post. No where in it did I object to people hunting, fishing or trapping to help sustain their families. I live in a very small rural community and come from a long line of hunters, trappers, fishermen, and farmers. (they hunted trapped and fished to sustain their families) My post was about the reintroduction of the gray wolf to Yellowstone, where it had been wiped out by over hunting–not by nature.

    If you are truly passionate about being able to hunt, fish and trap to sustain your family, and I believe you are…then you should be as equally passionate about protecting the animals from extinction, so that future generations are able to do the same or to simply enjoy the beauty of such creatures in nature as opposed to a photograph in a book.

    You said you loved all animals who reproduce and allow you to do what you do. But if the protection of those animals nearing extinction were to stop…you’d no longer be able to utilize them to help sustain your family because they’d soon be gone from this earth. By supporting certain protection measures, you ensure that your grandchildren, great grandchildren, and others are afforded the same opportunity you enjoy. And they will thank you for it.



  6. Mankind has a responsibility to wildlife that goes back to the garden of Eden. Thank you, Elizabeth, for speaking out on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.
    Jean Pike


  7. Hey Elizabeth, I am not angry with your post, I am angry with an idealized population that doesn’t understand things change. A population that have little understanding of wildlife other than pretty pictures they may see in magazines, and uses that “in the best interest of wildlife management.” Where I live they are constantly talking about wolf reintroduction, to the detriment of traditional land uses. No more hunting because it will “stress” the wolf habitat, no trapping because you may inadvertently catch a wolf, no motorized travel because of the environmental impact on the habitat. I would love to hear wolves roaming the thousands of acres of land where I live, but not at the exclusion of what I already have. So you protect the wolf, and I will continue to work with the already established populations.
    Our responsibility is to our own mankind, “speaking on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves”. You cannot assign human attributes to animals, it doesn’t work. Ms. Pike, in the Garden of Eden after they sinned, and realized they were naked God killed the first animal himself, “unto Adam and unto his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them.”


  8. The thing is, Jason, I could bounce a dozen scripture verses right back at ya to prove my point. I won’t get into a debate with you about it. But we do have a responsibility to these creatures. I’m not talking about hunting and trapping, so much as the obliteration of entire species with our selfish carelessness. In all honesty you can’t deny that man is destroying the Earth. I don’t think I’m assigning human attributes to animals when I say that someone had better speak up for wildlife. And soon.
    Have a nice day.


  9. I think they’re back on the endangered list no? My favorite animals in the world.



  10. Dave, they have been temporarily put back on the list. How long that will hold is anyone’s guess.


  11. Wolves are my FAVORITE animal, and I’d hate to see them eliminated from anywhere. I’m woking on a project for school on the hunting of Grey wolves in the 1800’s-1900’s. It’s incredible that people still attack wolves. If it were me, I’d do anything to save them. And yes, I’d much rather face a wolf than a bear. A bear’s more unpredictable, and more likely to attack if surprised. This website was VERY helpful with research, so thanks!!


  12. Jason, that doesn’t mean killing a defenseless animal is RIGHT. What did they ever do to you?? Technically, they were here first, so leave em be!! Plus, there is absolutely no point to hunting or trapping other than for fun. That is wrong. when you can just head down to the store to grab a hunk of steak, why do you need ot take prey away from animals already fighting for survival? That doesn’t make sense to me. So, Jason, go ahead and fight against the wolves/for the humans, but I’ll always be right there, standing in your way.


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“Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.” ― Mark Twain

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