Throughout history carnivores have been both revered and feared. They've also been persecuted — hunted and killed by those seeking to show mastery over nature's prestigious and powerful predators and by those who misunderstand these animals' roles.

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. This means that protecting areas large enough to support populations of animals like bears, jaguars and wolves can result in the conservation of a wide 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 those ecosystems.

Recognizing the ecological importance of wolves, bears and other carnivores, the Center uses science-based advocacy to defend these magnificent animals from exploitation and extinction. For example, we’ve worked on multiple fronts to ensure a safe and healthy habitat for wolves, to end federal predator persecution, and to bring wolf poachers to justice. We've worked to protect gray wolves across the country, jaguars and ocelots in the Southwest, grizzly bears, and four subspecies of island foxes on California's Channel Islands, among many other predator species.

Photo by Holy Smokes! Pham/Flickr