Wolf Manifesto

What Is This Manifesto?

This Manifesto is a statement of enlightened principles about wolves, drawn up by the Wolf Specialist Group (see side bar).



Declaration of Principles for Wolf Conservation

By the Wolf Specialist Group, of the Species Survival Commission, of the World Conservation Union (IUCN)

1. Wolves, like all other wildlife, have a right to exist in a wild state in viable populations. This right is in no way related to their known value to mankind. Instead, it derives from the right of all living creatures to co-exist with man as a part of natural ecosystems.

2. The wolf pack is a highly developed and unique social organization. The wolf is one of the most adaptable and important mammalian predators. It has one of the widest natural geographical distributions of any mammal. It has been, and in some areas still is, the most important predator of big-game animals in the northern hemisphere. In this role, it has undoubtedly played an important part in the evolution of such species and, in particular, of those characteristics which have made many of them desirable game animals.

3. It is recognized that wolf populations have differentiated into entities which are genetically adapted to particular environments. It is of first importance that these local populations be maintained in viable populations in their natural environments in a wild state. Maintenance of genetic identity of locally adapted races is a responsibility of agencies which plan to reintroduce wolves into the wild.

4. The response of man throughout most of recorded history, as reflected by the actions of individuals and governments, has been to try to exterminate the wolf, although some societies held neutral or positive attitudes toward wolves. In more than one-third of the countries where the wolf existed, man has either succeeded, or is on the verge of succeeding with wolf extermination. This is an unfortunate situation because the possibility now exists for the development of management programs which would mitigate serious problems, while at the same time permitting the wolf to live in many areas of the world where its presence would be compatible.

5. This harsh judgement on the wolf has been based, first, on fear of the wolf as a predator of man and second, on hatred because of its predation on domestic and semidomestic animals and on large wild animals. It is now evident that the wolf can no longer be considered a serious threat to man. It is true, however, that the wolf has been, and in some cases still is, a predator of some importance on domestic and semidomestic animals and wildlife.

6. Conflict with man sometimes occurs from undue economic competition or from imbalanced predator-prey ratios adversely affecting prey species and/or the wolf itself. In such cases, temporary reduction of wolf populations may become necessary especially when it can contribute to maintaining positive or neutral attitudes toward wolves, but reduction measures should be imposed under strict scientific management. The methods must be selective, specific to the problem, highly discriminatory, and have minimal adverse side effects on the ecosystem. Alternative ecosystem management, including alteration of human activities and attitudes and non-lethal methods of wolf management, should be fully considered before lethal wolf reduction is employed. The goal of wolf management programs must be to restore and maintain a healthy balance in all components of the ecosystem. Wolf reduction should never result in the permanent extirpation of the species from any portion of its natural range.

7. The effect of major alterations of the environment through economic development may have serious consequences for the survival of wolves and their prey species in areas where wolves now exist. Recognition of the importance and status of wolves should be taken into account by legislation and in planning for the future of any region.

8. Scientific knowledge of the role of the wolf in ecosystems has increased greatly, although it is inadequate in many countries where the wolf still exists. Management should be established only on a firm scientific basis, having regard for international, national and regional situations. However, existing knowledge is at least adequate to develop preliminary programs to conserve and manage the wolf throughout its range.

9. The maintenance of wolves in some areas may require that society at large bear the cost e.g. by giving compensation for the loss of domestic and semidomestic animals; conversely there are areas having high agricultural value where it is not desirable to maintain wolves without some form of control and where their recovery would not be feasible.

10. In some areas there has been a marked change in public attitudes towards the wolf. This change in attitudes has influenced governments to revise and even to eliminate archaic laws. It is recognized that education to establish a realistic picture of the wolf and its role in nature is most essential to wolf survival. Education programs, however, must be factual and accurate.

11. Socio-economic, ecological and political factors must be considered and resolved prior to reintroduction of the wolf into biologically suitable areas from which it has been extirpated. Natural recovery, however, should be given priority according to the IUCN Reintroduction Guidelines.

12. Wolf-dog hybridization is potentially detrimental to wolf conservation and is therefore opposed because of its possible negative effects.



Courtesy International Wolf Center

The Manifesto was adopted by the Wolf Specialist Group at the first international meeting on the conservation of the wolf, 1973, Stockholm, and revised by the group in 1983, 1996 and 2000.

The Wolf Specialist Group is an organization of authorities on wolves from over 25 countries. It deals with wolf conservation at the international level.

The World Conservation Union (also called IUCN) is a partnership of organizations and individuals from over 180 countries. Its headquarters is in Gland, Switzerland, and was founded in 1948. The World Wildlife Fund is its fundraising arm.




Guidelines on Wolf Conservation

A. Management

1. Where wolves are threatened locally, nationally or internationally, full protection should be accorded to the surviving population. (Such threatened status is signaled by inclusion in the Red Data Book or by a declaration of the Government concerned.)

2. Each country should define areas suitable for the existence of wolves and enact suitable legislation to perpetuate existing wolf populations or to facilitate recovery. These areas could include zones in which wolves would be given full legal protection, e.g. as in national parks, reserves or special conservation areas, and additionally zones within which wolf populations would be regulated according to ecological principles to minimize conflicts with other forms of land use. Another option is to manage wolves without zoning but react according to certain events or degrees of conflicts with livestock. Whenever wolves and livestock are allowed to be in the same area, wolf regulation should go together with livestock management plans.

3. Sound ecological conditions for wolves should be restored in areas through the rebuilding of suitable habitats and the re-introduction of large herbivores.

4. In specifically designated wolf conservation areas, extensive economic development likely to be detrimental to the wolf and its habitat should be excluded.

5. In wolf management programs, poisons, bounty systems and sport hunting using mechanized vehicles should be prohibited.

6. Consideration should be given to the payment of compensation for damage caused by wolves, and for incentives to prevent damage.

7. Jurisdictions in every country are encouraged to require the registration of each wolf killed and to provide an adequate number of specimens from those wolves for research.

B. Education Dynamic educational activities should be promoted to obtain the support of all sectors of the population through a better understanding of the values of wolves and the significance of their rational management. Public information should be coordinated and should be implemented with the help of professionals. Specific tools and approaches should be designed for different cultural and social settings.

C. Tourism Where appropriate, general public interest in wolf conservation should be stimulated by promoting wolf-related tourist activities.

D. Research Research on wolves should be intensified, with particular reference to:

a. Surveys on status and distribution of wolf populations;

b. Studies of feeding habits, including especially interactions of wolves with game animals and livestock;

c. Investigations into social structure, population dynamics, general behavior and ecology of wolves;

d. Taxonomic and genetic work, including studies of possible hybridization with other canids;

e. Research into the methods of reintroduction of wolves and/or their natural prey;

f. Studies into human attitudes about wolves and on economic effects of wolves; and

g. Research into the adaptability of wolves to human presence.

E. International Cooperation A program of international cooperation should be planned to include:

a. Periodical official meetings of the countries concerned for the joint planning of programs, study of legislation, and exchanging of experiences;

b. A rapid exchange of publications and other research information including new techniques and equipment;

c. Loaning or exchanging of personnel between countries to help carry out research activities; and

d. Joint conservation programs in frontier areas where wolves are endangered.

Midi: "Guiding Spirits",
"Mystic Waters" CD,
ŠElan Michaels used with permission.