Defenders in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains

Defenders in Action: Restoring Keystone Species

Defenders keeps wildlife in the western life by restoring keystone species that have an outsized impact on their ecosystems using a broad range of conservation tools.

How We’re Helping

  • Defenders helped lead efforts to reintroduce gray wolves to the Northern Rockies in 1995 and continues to work for better management and greater acceptance of these important but controversial predators, particularly as they move into new areas. Wolves play a vital role in regulating plant and animal communities by influencing the numbers and behaviors prey animals, competitors, and other species dependent on them.
  • Grizzly bears were in serious trouble before they gained protection under the Endangered Species Act. Now we’re working to address conflicts as these giant animals regain parts of their historic habitat.
  • Bison and prairie dogs are considered ecosystem engineers for their vigilant maintenance of our native grasslands. Prairie dogs also provide food for black-footed ferrets, swift foxes, and several birds of prey. Restoring bison and prairie dogs is key to revitalizing the Great Plains and protecting the future of other prairie species.
More on Defenders in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains: Defenders in Action: Living with Wildlife »

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Polar bear, © Tom Schneider
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Gray Wolf, © Dawn Hammond
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The wolf is the largest member of the canine family. Gray wolves range in color from grizzled gray or black to all-white. As the ancestor of the domestic dog, the gray wolf resembles German shepherds or malamutes.
Grizzly Bear, © Karen Willes
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The grizzly bear is a large predator that is different from black bears due to a distinctive hump on its shoulders. Grizzly bears have concave faces and long claws about the length of a human finger.