Throughout history, carnivores have been both revered and feared. They’ve also been persecuted — hunted by those seeking to show mastery over nature’s prestigious and powerful predators, and killed by those who misunderstand these animals’ role.
Because carnivores are at the top of the food chain, they serve as good indicators of an ecosystem’s overall health: where predators thrive, prey must also be abundant. Therefore, protecting areas large enough to support populations of animals like bears, jaguars, and wolves can result in the preservation of a whole range of species, both animals and plants, as well as the integrity of the complex ecosystems in which they live. In contrast, in areas where human activity has eliminated top predators, their former prey — such as deer or elk — tend to overpopulate their habitats, causing the dramatic decline of the ecosystem.
To protect carnivores and restore the ecosystems they historically inhabited, the Center takes a comprehensive, landscape-level approach that has resulted in increased protections for millions of acres of habitat. Our Queen Charlotte goshawk and Alexander Archipelago wolf campaigns, launched in 1994 and 1996, catalyzed significant improvements to the Tongass National Forest Land Management Plan, which affects 17 million acres of spectacular wilderness in southeast Alaska. Our efforts to secure protections for the northern goshawk and Mexican spotted owl have brought about changes in forest management across the Southwest, bringing about dramatic reductions in irresponsible logging. In 1989, Center founders participated in a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense to have the Mexican gray wolf reintroduced to the Southwest; the suit was settled with an agreement by the government to initiate a study of reintroduction possibility that resulted in the 1998 reintroduction. Since then, the Center has worked on multiple fronts to ensure a safe and healthy habitat for the wolves, to end federal predator persecution, and to bring wolf poachers to justice. We’ve also worked to protect wolves in the northern Rockies and Midwest, killer whales in Washington, jaguars in the Southwest, grizzly bears, four subspecies of island foxes on California's Channel Islands, and the Ohlone tiger beetle, among many other predatory species.