Manifesto & Guidelines
Principles for Wolf Conservation*
- 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
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
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.
following guidelines are recommended for action of wolf conservation.
Where wolves are endangered regionally, nationally or internationally, full
protection should be accorded to the surviving population. (Such endangered
status is signalled by inclusion in the Red Data Book or by a declaration of the
Each country should define areas suitable for the existence of wolves and enact
suitable legislation to perpetuate existing wolf populations or to facilitate
reintroduction. These areas would 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 minimise conflicts with other
forms of land use.
Sound ecological conditions for wolves should be restored in such areas through
the rebuilding of suitable habitats and the reintroduction of large herbivores.
In specifically designated wolf conservation areas, extensive economic
development likely to be detrimental to the wolf and its habitat should be
In wolf management programmes, poisons, bounty systems and sport hunting using
mechanised vehicles should be prohibited.
Consideration should be given to the payment of compensation for damage caused
Legislation should be enacted in every country to require the registration of
each wolf killed.
A dynamic educational campaign 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. In particular the
following actions are advocated:
Press and broadcast campaigns;
b. Publication and wide distribution of information and educational
c. Promotion of exhibitions, demonstrations and relevant extension
Where appropriate, general public interest in wolf conservation should be
stimulated by promoting wolf-related tourist activities. (Canada already has
such activities in some of its national and provincial parks.)
Research on wolves should be intensified, with particular reference to:
a. Surveys on status and distribution of wolf populations;
b. Studies on feeding habits, including especially interactions of wolves
with game animals and livestock;
c. Investigations into social structure, population dynamics, general
behaviour and ecology of wolves;
Taxonomic work, including studies of possible hybridisation with other canids;
e. Research into the methods of reintroduction of wolves and/or their
natural prey; and
f. Studies into human attitudes about wolves and on economic effects of
E. International co-operation
programme of international co-operation should be planned to include:
a. Periodical official meetings of the countries concerned for the joint
planning of programmes, 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 programmes in frontier areas where wolves are
* The Wolf Specialist Group, of
the Species Survival Commission, of The World Conservation Union (IUCN). 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.
See at < http://www.wolftrust.org.uk/
Also see the, "Action
Plan for the conservation of the wolves (Canis lupus) in Europe",
Luigi Boitani, May 11, 2000. Presented at the Convention On The Conservation
Of European Wildlife And Natural Habitats, Oslo, 22-24 June 2000. Mission
statement of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE):
"To maintain and restore, in coexistence with people,
viable populations of large carnivores as an integral part of ecosystems and
landscapes across Europe."
See full text at < http://www.nature.coe.int/cp20/tpvs23e.htm >.