If Wolves went Extinct, How would it affect our Environment?

Have you ever wondered what would happen if all the wolves went extinct?

If wolves went extinct, it would significantly affect biodiversity and have devastating consequences as it won’t only impact the ecosystem but also the human habitat.

Wolves maintain a healthy ecosystem, regulate prey populations, and promote biodiversity. And if we neglect this species, it could get back to the point when Wolves went extinct.

The major role of this critical keystone species in our ecosystem is to prevent outbreaks of diseases and keep the balance of ecosystem.

However, despite their importance, wolves have faced mistreatment for centuries and are currently threatened by habitat loss and human-wildlife conflicts.

In this blog, we will understand wolves’ critical role in our world and what would happen if they went extinct.

The Wolf Population & Their Role in Our Ecosystem

Wolves are also knowns as Gray wolves, and the wolf populations are estimated at nearly 7,000 to 11,200 gray wolves in Alaska, 3,700 in the Great Lakes region, 1,675 in the Northern Rockies, and 275 in the Pacific Northwest.

Presently, the IUNC has classified them as the least concern species. As apex predators, they help to control the populations of herbivores such as elk and deer, which in turn impacts the vegetation and the overall health of the ecosystem.

The balance population of wolves helps prevent overgrazing and maintain biodiversity. They also affect the behavior of other animals, such as coyotes and foxes, which can indirectly influence the ecosystem.

Furthermore, wolves scavenge and redistribute nutrients that positively affect soil and plant health. Overall, the presence of wolves in ecosystems is vital to maintain a healthy and balanced environment.

“The gray wolf is a keystone species. You remove it, and the effects cascade down to the grasses.”

The gray wolf is a keystone species, meaning its role in an ecosystem is crucial for maintaining balance and stability.

Wolves primarily feed on large herbivores such as elk and deer, and their presence has been shown to regulate herbivore populations and prevent overgrazing.

Without wolves, herbivore populations can grow in an unknown number, leading to a decline in plant species diversity and even altering the landscape. The effects can even cascade down to the grasses, which are the foundation of many ecosystems.

Therefore, the conservation and protection of wolves are important for their survival and the health and functioning of our entire ecosystem.

Yellowstone National Park When Wolves Went Extinct (1926-1995)

Yellowstone National Park, without wolves from 1926 to 1995, was entirely different than it is today. In 1926, the last wolves were killed in the park, and for many years, the park was without its top predator.

Yellowstone National Park

The absence of wolves led to an overpopulation of elk, who grazed heavily on the park’s vegetation and changed the landscape. The decline of vegetation caused a decrease in beavers, songbirds, and other animals population that are important for our ecosystem.

Moreover, the carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, like grizzly bears and scavengers.

Initiatives Taken by Wildlife Managers for Recovery when Wolves Went Extinct.

In the 1970s, the wildlife manager took some initiative to bring back the wolves in the ecosystem. They started working on the newly-enacted Federal endangered species act. With the help of this act, the wildlife managers submitted a proposal to import the wolves from Canada to recover the gray wolf’s existence again.

After the submission of their proposal, they got approval twenty years later. Then in 1995 and 1996, many wolves were imported by airplane across the border, and later on by truck and mule-drawn wagons. These wolves were then distributed in Yellowstone and Idaho.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the third wolf population started to inhabit northwestern Montana by naturally migrating from Canada.

Meanwhile, a third wolf population had begun to recolonize northwestern Montana through natural migration from Canada in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

The gray wolves in these three recovery areas found suitable habitats for breeding and expanding their territories. Today they are collectively referred to as the Northern Rockies gray wolf population.

However, wolf reintroduction in 1995 sparked a remarkable comeback for the park’s ecosystem. The wolves’ presence helped regulate elk populations, allowing vegetation to grow and thrive, bringing back other animals.

Trump Administration’s Premature Decision to Strip Gray Wolves from endangered species act

Most recently, the most threatened decision for the wolf population was the Trump administration’s premature decision which could bring back to the point when Wolves went extinct. The authorities decided to strip the gray wolves from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.

This was also the waste of years of effort given by the people who worked to protect the wolves from the point of extinction.

But an on-time decision by a sensible judge on 10 Feb 2022 secured the wolf populations from extinction and further dangers. This decision was the reverse of the Trump administration’s orders.

How Coyote Populations Affected in Grand Teton National Park

Wolves play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of Grand Teton National Park. With the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, the park has shown significant changes, such as the regeneration of vegetation and the recovery of several species, including the bison and elk.

Additionally, wolf reintroduction has impacted the coyote population, as they are a direct competitor for prey. However, research suggests that the coyote population has adapted to the presence of wolves by shifting their hunting habits and territories.


Wolves are the top predators of our ecosystem, and the side-effects of the absence of this important species can vastly affect our ecosystem.

Moreover, the yellow national park, without gray wolves in the early ’90s, is a real-life example to understand the disadvantages and effects of the extinction of wolves for our ecosystem.

Further, the IUNC classified this species as the least concern as the population of wolves is currently under control. But continuous deforestation and urbanization could threaten the wolf species again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there still wolves in Yellowstone?

As per the report of 2021, there are 95 wolves in Yellowstone national park.

What would happen if there were no wolves?

If gray wolves vanished from the ecosystem, the whole food chain would be destroyed.

What is so special about wolves?

Being an important part of our ecosystem, wolves are complex, highly intelligent animals who are caring and playful.

What disadvantages do wolves have?

The disadvantage wolves have is the livelihoods of people where they hunt.

Why do people keep killing wolves?

People kill wolves for sport, to use their skins, to protect livestock, and, in rare cases, in self-defence.

What happens if wolves go extinct?’

Humans may suffer from beef, dairy, and other food products shortage. Moreover, the elk and deer populations would increase, affecting the other wildlife species.

Why are wolves a keystone species?

Wolves are keystone species as they play an important role in regulating the prey population, which results in the growth of other plant and animal species.

What are the benefits of wolves?

The major benefit of the wolf is that they keep the population of deer and elk in balance.

Olivia Kepner