Members of the Wapiti Lake pack play on a winter day. Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Killingsworth

Protecting Wolves Through Compassionate Conservation in the Northern Rockies

Removed from Endangered Species Act protections by the Trump administration, a policy continued with strong support from the Biden administration, wolves are now in crisis in the US. States like Montana and Idaho have created legislation that paves the way for the near extermination of the packs living in the Northern Rockies.

As apex predators that play vital ecological roles in promoting biodiversity and ecosystem health, wolves need federal protections and a national recovery plan to stop egregious killing across their range.

Support for this project will help Project Coyote focus on immediate wolf protection efforts in strategic regions where they are most threatened by proposed trophy hunting and political ill will.

Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Killingsworth

Change policy and promote peaceful coexistence with wolves

Led by Dr. Michelle Lute, Carnivore Conservation Director, the main goals of this project are to list wolves in the Northern Rockies on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), halt the lethal legislation passed in Montana and Idaho, and promote respect and appreciation for wolves and their vital ecological role through community outreach.

To change policy regarding wolves, the team at Project Coyote will appeal to the Department Interior Secretary for emergency ESA listing. Funding will help local and remote organizers purchase support tools.

The outreach program to promote peaceful coexistence with wolves and compassion for the species will include billboards, newspaper advertisements, paid media promotions, film, video, social media campaigns, and Science Advisors' expert testimony. In-person workshops will also be held to spread awareness and deploy non-lethal deterrence toolkits.

Motions are already underway in Montana

Following Project Coyote’s momentous legal victory to stop a hunting and trapping season for wolves in Wisconsin, they were approached by the same lawyers to bring a similar case for wolves in Montana.

Project Coyote, along with WildEarth Guardians and represented by GreenFire Law, filed a lawsuit against the State of Montana, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission alleging that the state’s current wolf hunting and trapping regulations violate numerous laws and the Montana constitution.

In November 2022, they filed a motion asking the court to prohibit the start of the state’s wolf-trapping season and to immediately halt the ongoing wolf-hunting season while the merits of a pending lawsuit are being considered. Support will help stop the mass slaughter of wolves in Montana using egregiously cruel methods.

Photo: courtesy of Sarah Killingsworth

Healthy wolves help humans and the ecosystem

The most direct beneficiaries of wolf protection are wolf individuals, families, populations, genetics, and the whole species' persistence in the Northern Rockies.

Human communities living with or near wolves will also benefit from increased ecotourism for wolf-watching. If the recovery of these important apex predators can be ensured at a level that allows them to contribute to ecosystem balance and function, it will also bring benefits to all humans who rely on the services provided by healthy ecosystems where wolves thrive.

Conservation for all carnivores

Supporting this immediate work will help save the lives of hundreds of wolves and their future offspring, contributing to flourishing wild ecosystems now and in perpetuity. 

Enhancing the community of humans that value wolves will lay the groundwork for future initiatives to protect other carnivores and biodiversity broadly.