Andrea Lorek Strauss is the National Information and Education Director at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota.
Strauss teaches people about wolves, their relationship to wild lands, and the human role in their future. Why protect, or even reintroduce, wolves? Predators such as wolves help keep ecosystems in balance, regulating prey species and allowing other species of plants and animals to flourish. Wolves influence the ecosystems where they live, and we're only starting to understand the domino effects they cause. Strauss says, "Protecting ecosystems with habitat and prey for wolves helps them have less conflict with humans."
Loss of wild habitat is the root cause of most problems facing wolves.
For hundreds of years after European settlement, people hunted, trapped, and poisoned wolves, nearly eliminating them in the United States. After the signing of the U.S. Endangered Species act in 1973, penalties stopped people from killing wolves, and healthy wolf populations now thrive in parts of the country where people tolerate them. But as human populations continue to grow and spread, the wild land habitat that supports wolves is lost to residential and industrial development and the animals end up competing and sometimes conflicting with humans. It's a lot easier to live peacefully together if we sustain wild spaces for wolves and their prey.
Strauss says, "If we want to have wolves around 100 years from now, then how we use the wild lands today matters a lot. North America used to have so much wild land, but now we don't. Will we save room for wolves and other wild creatures?"