Oftentimes when we think about wolves we find ourselves picturing dangerous pack animals that exist only to savage other animals in the ecosystem.
However, this long-held fear and stigmatization, which leads back generations, has had a noticeable impact on wolf numbers, which, in turn, has a much wider impact on other wildlife in wolf ecosystems.
Numerous efforts have been started across the world to protect wolf populations as well as to spread awareness of the plight of wolf populations, systematically dismantling the stigma associated with the species.
But many people still find themselves wondering why exactly it is so important for us to protect wolf populations, and what impact the extinction of wolf populations could mean.
If you are in such a position, then you have come to the right place, because today we are going to explore these questions to try and find some definitive answers so that you can understand why we need to protect wolf populations!
Before we dive in, we’d love to welcome our new readers from the recently acquired keepwolvesprotected.com. We can’t wait for you to get stuck in.
Why Are Wolves Under Threat?
Before we take a look at why it is important to protect wolf populations and how we can go about doing it, it would be worth taking a look to find out why wolves are endangered in the first place, as this can help us to better understand what can be done to protect them.
The most commonly pointed-to reason for declining wolf populations is the stigma associated with the species. For as long as humans have been around we have found ourselves in conflict with wolves, and this is reflected in some of our earliest folk tales and our earliest legends and mythologies.
How many fairytales and folktales are there where wolves play the lead villain? The Three Little Pigs must contend against the big bad wolf who threatens to destroy their homes and livelihoods, while Little Red Riding Hood finds herself lured deeper into the forest by a cunning wolf.
The reason why these stories demonize wolves likely ties to our long-held contentious relationship with wolves. Wolves have often been linked to problems with crops, and our earliest ancestors would likely have had to contend with wolves in order to hunt animals to include in their diets!
Because of the history of stigmatization in folklore many of us grow up with negative connotations that are ingrained in our minds, leading us to feel apathetic when we hear that the species is in danger.
As we mentioned earlier, humans have long been in conflict with wolves as both of them have found themselves fighting over the same food sources.
While this problem definitely proved to be more prominent for our ancestors who hunted for food, unfortunately wolf populations can still prove troublesome for those that are raising animals for food.
Many farmers are worried that wolves will attempt to eat their livestock and their crops, which leads them to take matters into their own hands, either killing wolves on sight, or driving their populations away from their natural habitats.
Because of the continued conflict between humans and wolves, many politicians have actually lobbied for fewer protections to be afforded to wolves, making them easier to hunt and cull.
While wolves are protected in America, they are not afforded protections in Eastern Europe or Russia, where the animals are hunted for a bounty.
As human populations continue to grow, and as humans continue to branch out into further parts of the world to set up homes, wolf populations are being driven further and further away from their natural habitats.
This naturally means that wolves need to then fend for themselves attempting to find a new home, which may put them in direct conflict with other species and even with other wolf packs!
This also means that conflicts between wolves and humans are starting up in areas where such conflicts may not have previously occurred.
Human expansion into wild territories has been ongoing for multiple generations which means that many wolf populations have already gone extinct. In fact, most wolf populations in Europe have been wiped out entirely in the last four centuries alone!
Hunting And Poaching
Unfortunately, the barbaric practices of hunting and poaching still continue in earnest to this day, and wolves very often find themselves as targets for poachers and hunters despite the fact that in territories like the United States, wolves are a protected species.
Unfortunately, poaching and illegal hunting are renowned for leading to the outright extinction of some species such as Zanzibar Leopards, and even wolf populations in the Falkland Islands!
If stricter policies are not put into place to punish poachers and wildlife traffickers then it is very likely that wolf populations could find themselves going extinct sooner than later.
Why Do We Need Wolves?
At this point, you’ve likely found yourself at least a little more sympathetic to the plight of wolf populations, but you’re likely also still wondering why exactly it is so important to endeavor to protect wolves. What exactly do we need wolves for?
Wolves Help To Protect The Food Chain
The complete extinction of an animal species is not simply an isolated event, as all species exist as part of a food chain.
If one species dies out, then other species in the chain may find themselves with fewer food options! If all wolves were to become extinct it could wreak havoc on the food chain and other animal populations.
In some cases, if an apex predator like the wolf lessens in population then all of the prey species that it feeds on can find themselves ballooning massively in population.
In fact, research in 2001 showed that upon the wolf populations of Yellowstone going extinct, populations of moose went up massively, which in turn caused them to eat more vegetation, wreaking havoc on local bird populations.
Prey animals like deer and elk tend to congregate together in smaller groups, which helps to keep their populations in careful control and measure as they fear wolves hunting them all down. Thus the mere existence of wolves in certain habitats can help with animal population control!
One thing that surprises many people when it comes to wolves is that they can actually be linked to disease control. One disease that majorly affects elk and deer populations in the United States is Chronic Wasting Disease. If just one elk or deer in a pack has the disease, then the others in the pack are liable to also catch it.
As we explored before, the existence of wolves incentivizes elk and deer to stay in smaller groups, which in turn helps to keep the disease from spreading!
Wolves will also be able to cull weakened elk or deer that have caught the disease before it can spread to others in the pack.
Wolf Diets Help Other Lesser Species
Many creatures in the food chain are scavengers that do not actively hunt but look around for leftover sources of food left behind by larger predators like wolves.
When wolves kill other animals for food, they very often leave behind leftover food on the carcasses of the animals they have killed. Scavenger species will head to the carcasses and derive much of their own food intake from there.
Without local wolf populations, many scavenger species could find themselves without a food source as they lack the resources to hunt for themselves, which could lead to massive losses in other population numbers further down the food chain. The impact across the food chain from species extinction really cannot be overstated!
Wolves Can Help The Environment
Did you know that the carcasses left behind by animal species can actually prove beneficial to the environment? When the carcasses of prey species decay they leave behind loads of nitrogen and other nutrients that can help to deeply enrich the soil around them.
This means that wolf populations can quite literally help to protect the environment and make our soil more fertile and fruitful!
Why Is Conservation Important?
As you can now see, protecting wolf populations is vital towards helping to protect their local ecosystems because they exist as part of a larger food chain, and thus their absence can be very directly felt.
But you may now be wondering why the act of conservation itself is so important. Why don’t we take a look?
It Protects Wildlife
Obviously, protecting certain wildlife populations helps to keep those same populations alive, and helps the populations to survive into the future. On a purely moral level, this is the right thing to do because it allows more species the chance to live long and happy lives.
The only problem is, some species that have diminished numbers may find themselves in a position in which they cannot reasonably survive on their own.
This is especially the case for pack animals. If certain pack animals find themselves isolated they are less likely to survive, and they will be unable to mate and prolong the survival of the species.
Conservation is important because it allows us to intervene and provide certain species with a safe and comfortable environment to survive and repopulate.
Though it can take a long time for some species, the hope is that the conservation effort will allow the species to reintegrate back into life in the wild.
Conservation efforts also work to end animal trafficking, a dangerous practice that continues to put countless species in danger. This is even the case for wolves who are often lifted directly from their natural habitats and then forced to live in cramped environments in zoos and wildlife parks.
Conservation Protects The Earth
Many animal species play a very specific role in helping to protect the environment, and without those same species, the environment could come under direct threat.
Thus, conservation efforts help to protect species so that they can then continue to enact their efforts that help to protect the environment.
Some animals are directly responsible for protecting their own habitats, such as rainforests, but when those same species die out, rainforests and other similar biomes come under threat, which has a much wider impact on the health of the environment around us.
Human activity already has a large impact on the health of the environment, and the potential extinction of some species could make these impacts much more profound and threatening.
Conservation Is Beneficial To Human Health
With the continued expansion of humans into natural habitats, building new homes and new facilities, humans and animal populations have come closer together than ever before, and this has meant that many animal species have been forced to acclimate to living alongside humans.
Unfortunately, when animals and humans live in such close proximity to one another it can lead to infectious diseases spreading from animals to humans.
In ordinary circumstances these diseases would not spread between the two because there would be little to no interaction between the two. Animals being so close to human cities and towns also means that diseases can more easily spread from person to person.
Conservation allows us to protect both human and animal habitats to prevent diseases from spreading from animals to human populations.
The Ebola outbreak that claimed many lives was a direct result of prolonged contact between endangered species and local human populations, so it truly is in the best interest of humanity to conserve animal populations to prevent similar situations from arising in the future!
Conservation Preserves Culture And Heritage
In some cultures, local animals and wildlife are an important part of the local culture. This explains why certain deities in certain world religions are based on certain animals!
If we were to lose certain species, then we would also lose a lot of cultural associations connected to those same animals. This means that losing certain animal species also means losing a large portion of human history and culture!
This is particularly troublesome when we consider that specific human cultures are already at risk of dying out, and this risk is further cemented by the fact that things like certain languages are dying out.
How Can Individuals Help With Conservation Efforts?
Unfortunately, a large number of conservation efforts find themselves falling at simple hurdles because of a lack of funding.
While it is definitely possible for conservation projects to secure funding from governments and local authorities, there are a large number of organizations that cannot secure funding. Whether an organization can secure funding all depends on whether a given species is deemed to be valuable or not.
For example, if a government believed that wolves were not worth protecting, then efforts to conserve wolf populations would likely not receive official funding from the government.
This means that such efforts would depend on donations from those interested in helping to preserve animal population numbers. The only problem is securing significant enough donations can be easier said than done.
Thus, one of the best ways that you can help conservation efforts for animal species is to donate plenty of money to organizations that are focused on conservation. And make sure to spread the word about those same organizations, to incentivize others to also donate funds.
A large reason why many animal populations become endangered is because of a lack of information. Some people just simply aren’t aware that certain species are under threat, or that there are even any efforts in place to conserve species.
Luckily, you can help to change this by simply making people aware that there are efforts that they can get directly involved with donations or by volunteering. This will then allow them to then spread the information further.
This can be very important in the case of wolves. As we explored earlier, the common collective image of wolves is a negative one, thanks to their associations with villainy in folklore.
Spreading awareness of the plight of wolves can be a great way of lessening the social stigma around wolves, which can make people more likely to make an effort to protect the species.
While donations can go a long way towards helping conservation efforts, you may not find that it gives you enough of a sense of satisfaction.
As a result, one of the very best things that you can do to help conserve wolf populations, or the populations of other animals, is to head out and volunteer to work with some of the conservation programs.
This can be a great way of helping to ensure that the programs can better make an impact, and also simply makes you feel good.
You will be able to get first-hand experience with helping wolves and get a real sense of the dangers they face, in turn making you a more willing conservationist!
To Wrap Up
As you can now see, there are countless reasons why we should be working, every day, to protect wolf populations across the world.
Though many would assume that life without wolves would only be positive, due to their negative associations, research has proven that the outright extinction of wolves would have an impact felt across the world.
If wolves were to go extinct, then other animals in the food chain would be at direct risk of going extinct. This is because many smaller species depend on wolves to help them to scavenge food.
Prey animals that wolves hunt will also see a population boom which could have a direct impact on human health, as numerous diseases can spread from animals to humans and cause widespread pandemics!
Luckily, there are many things that individuals can do to help protect wolf populations. Individuals can give donations to conservation efforts found across the world that are seeking to protect wild populations.
As well as that, they can also get directly involved with the same organizations to play a direct role in helping to save wolves.
Regardless of how you go about helping, it is incredibly worthwhile putting in the effort to help protect wolf populations, as the impacts that extinction of wolf populations can have are truly massive.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Wolves Help Us With?
Wolves help us to manage populations of other animals, as they are able to pick out the weakest members of certain packs and then cull those members, helping to keep numbers down while also strengthening animal packs!
What Would Happen If There Were No Wolves?
Wolves are a keystone species important to their local ecosystems. If the species were to go extinct then scavenger species that depend on them would also die out, causing a domino effect that could outright destroy some ecosystems!
How Do Wolves Help The Economy?
Wolves help the economy by keeping numbers of deer down, which makes agricultural efforts more effective, as there are less likely to be loose deer grazing on crops and other plant life.