Opponents of Wolf Protection

Those who oppose legislation that would protect the wolf include actors from separate but similar social realms. For various reasons, ranchers, farmers, hunters, nonprofit organizations like the National Rifle Association, local citizen activist groups and state government bureaucracies such as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game support management of grey wolf populations. Also included is the former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, who is infamous for her endorsement of aerial wolf hunting in her state. All of these actors want the wolf to be removed from the endangered species list in all parts of the country and for hunting to be allowed as a population management strategy.

These actors rally against policies that protect the wolf, and fight for delisting and legalization of wolf hunting. It is because of the strength of these groups and their reasons for allowing wolf hunting that the wolf's protection has been and continues to be challenged.

Ranchers and Farmers

One of the fiercest groups that oppose wolf protection include ranchers and farmers who live and make a living in areas within or near wolf territory. These people suffer most directly from the presence of wolves in the area, because of the damage that wolves cause to crops and, more often, to livestock. They are strong proponents of wolf hunting or other methods of population control and can be hostile toward wolves because of the economic hardship that they can cause.
Ranchers try to protect their livestock by installing fladry, low-hanging flags that deter wolves from entering the livestock's area, but still suffer losses.


Hunters are also in favor of delisting the wolf and legalizing wolf hunts for the obvious reason that they want to hunt wolves, as they are particularly difficult to hunt and pose a challenge and a conquest to hunters who are searching for a greater thrill. However, hunters also promote hunting as a method of population control because wolf population dynamics impact the populations of other big game species that are also important to hunters. Elk, moose, caribou and deer are a few of the large mammals that wolves prey upon and that hunters utilize as sport. When wolves become too numerous, they deplete the populations of big game animals, which are less abundant for hunters to pursue. For these reasons, hunters in areas near wolf populations are strong proponents of delisting and the legalization of hunting. 
Hunters set out to track down wolves in Idaho.

Nonprofit Organizations

There are several national nonprofit organizations that oppose wolf protection, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. All of these organizations support the delisting of the wolf and legalization of wolf hunting, mostly because they support the right to hunt and would like to expand opportunities for Americans to do so.

At first glance, the organization Idaho for Wildlife would seem to oppose hunting, as the banner on its website proclaims that it is "dedicated to the preservation of Idaho's wildlife." However, the group is actually in favor of legalizing wolf hunting in order to allow for more abundant populations of elk, which would mean that it is actually a hunting organization. Its nature as such an organization is not immediately obvious, but upon closer inspection of its website, one can find news and research that demonizes the wolf and emphasizes the damage it does to elk populations, as well as knives and other hunting supplies for sale. This organization reveals that affiliation should not be assumed based on a group's name, and that a closer look at an organization can show its true inclinations.

State Bureaucracies

Although state agencies are typically meant to be unbiased when dealing with a controversy such as this one, a few of the bureaucracies involved in the issue of wolf protection are less than impartial. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has not acted completely in favor of allowing wolf hunting, but ruled in favor of allowing hunting when the opportunity arose. It may not be that the department itself is biased, but that it simply reflects the feelings and preferences of the citizens in the state of Idaho. In any case, once the Fish and Wildlife Service approved delisting of the wolf in Idaho, species management was handed over to the state bureaucracy and the department instituted provisions to legalize wolf hunting.

Sarah Palin

The former Governor of Alaska is well known in the debate over wolf protection for her approval of aerial wolf hunting in Alaska. Not only did Palin endorse aerial wolf hunting, she also planned to institute a program through which the state government would offer a bounty of $150 per wolf, provided that the hunter show the wolf's severed foreleg as proof of the kill. Palin is an outspoken defender of the American right to hunt and an important figure in the controversy over wolf protection.

Local Residents

One group with fierce opposition to protecting the wolf under the Endangered Species Act includes residents of areas that are near wolf territories. Some residents feel that their safety and the safety of their children and pets is at risk while wolf populations in the area continue to grow. These people advocate wolf hunts as a method to manage the species and reduce the threat that the wolf poses.

Click here to see a video of protestors in Montana demonstrate outside a courthouse where a judge would determine whether or not to keep the wolf listed as protected under the Endangered Species Act.