Why Are Wolves Endangered in the Wild?

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The primary threat to wild wolves is excessive hunting by humans. Habitat loss due to human settlement is also a significant threat to wild wolves in some areas.

Not all wolves are endangered. Healthy populations of gray wolves survive in parts of Europe and Asia. However, they were hunted nearly to extinction in the United States and parts of Canada. The red wolf, which lives in the southeastern United States, was hunted to extinction in the wild. However, a captive breeding program had been established and the wolves were reintroduced, though there are only about 100 of them living in the wild as of 2015.

Wolves are frequently targeted by farmers and ranchers in an effort to protect their livestock from predation. People also sometimes overestimate the threat wolves pose to humans, which leads to excessive hunting in an effort to prevent attacks on humans. However, wolf attacks on both humans and livestock are rare. In some parts of the world, certain organs and other body parts are believed to have healing powers. This leads to overhunting for use in traditional medicine.

Wolves are naturally shy animals that generally try to avoid human contact, so expanding cities and towns drive wolves from their native habitats. Habitat loss also occurs for commercial reasons. Large-scale mining, deforestation and logging can disrupt the wolves' hunting patterns and drive them away.