Vision

The Rewilding Institute’s Wildlife Recovery and Protection Visions and Endorsers

The Rewilding Institute emphasizes the restoration of highly interactive species (keystone and foundation species) throughout their suitable range in ecologically effective populations as proposed by Michael Soulè and his colleagues in recent papers.

However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies have approached recovery of these species, especially large carnivores, in a haphazard and minimalist way. Even conservation groups have not had comprehensive visions for recovery of endangered and threatened species.

The Rewilding Institute is developing recovery visions for highly interactive species in North America in cooperation with both scientists and citizen conservationists working on restoration of particular species.

Vision statements for the recovery of the gray wolf and mountain lion in North America have already been developed. Future vision statements will include those for jaguar, lynx, grizzly bear, polar bear, wolverine, and fisher. As these visions are developed, they will be featured here. The Rewilding Institute seeks endorsements of these vision statements by conservation groups and scientists. Contact us about endorsing.

A North American Wolf Vision

In 1600, wolves lived in North America from the high Arctic islands to just north of the Valley of Mexico, and from Atlantic to Pacific.  Beginning with the earliest European settlements, colonists declared war against wolves.  By the middle of the twentieth century, wolves were essentially extirpated from the United States and Mexico.

We now know that the fear of wolves was based on myths, and that wolves are a vital and necessary part of healthy, functioning North American ecosystems.  With this new knowledge, tentative efforts have been made to restore wolves in the most out-of-the-way parts of temperate North America.

However, these restoration efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endeavor only to recover small, geographically isolated populations encompassing a relatively insignificant proportion of their historic range.

Furthermore, the USFWS has no plans for restoring wolves to substantial areas of potentially suitable habitat (the Southern Rocky Mountains, New England, and the Pacific Northwest, for example).

We call for the recovery of wolves across North America.  Such recovery means:

  • Restoration of wolves in suitable habitat throughout their former range in North America, from the Northern Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico to the Canadian Rockies and Coast Range, and from the U.S. Pacific Northwest to the Upper Great Lakes and to upstate New York and New England.
  • Restoration of potentially suitable habitats and crucial linkages between patches of suitable wolf habitat where wolves are free to behave like wolves.
  • Restoration of wolves in ecologically and evolutionarily effective populations so that they may fulfill their natural keystone role of ecosystem regulation, aiding the persistence of native flora and fauna.
  • Restoration of wolves throughout this expanse, so that all wolf populations are connected by a continuum of functioning dispersal linkages.

In short, we envision the return of the wolf to its rightful place in North American wildlands, to a community where humans dwell with respect and tolerance for wild species.

Endorsed by:

A North American Mountain Lion Vision

In 1600, mountain lions (pumas, cougars, panthers) lived in North America from the southern edge of the boreal forest south into South America, and from Atlantic to Pacific. Beginning with the earliest European settlements, colonists declared war against mountain lions.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, mountain lions were essentially extirpated from east of the Rocky Mountains in temperate North America. Continuing through the first half of the twentieth century, mountain lions were hunted in the West and in Mexico until their populations were heavily depleted.

We now know that the fear of mountain lions was based on myths, and that mountain lions are a vital and necessary part of healthy, functioning North American ecosystems. Mountain lions gained some protection during the last half of the twentieth century through the efforts of conservationists, ethical hunters, and progressive wildlife managers.

Some 50-100 Florida panthers hold on, now augmented genetically and numerically with the release of Texas lions into their habitat. Mountain lions are back in small numbers in northern Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and likely the Ozarks, but federal and state agencies have refused to undertake serious restoration efforts in the East.

We call for the conservation of mountain lions in the West and the recovery of mountain lions east of the Rockies. Such conservation and recovery means:

  • Restoration of mountain lions in suitable habitat throughout their former range in North America, from Florida up through the Appalachian Mountains to the Canadian Maritimes, from New England through Ontario to the Upper Great Lakes to the Rockies, from Texas across to Florida, and up through the Ozarks to the Upper Great Lakes.
  • Restoration of potentially suitable habitats and crucial linkages between patches of suitable mountain lion habitat where mountain lions are free to behave like mountain lions.
  • Restoration of mountain lions in ecologically and evolutionarily effective populations so that they may fulfill their natural keystone role of ecosystem regulation, aiding the persistence of native flora and fauna.
  • Restoration of mountain lions throughout this expanse, so that all mountain lion populations are connected by a continuum of functioning dispersal linkages.
  • Restoration of a tolerance and appreciation for the mountain lion among local and regional human populations.

In short, we envision the return of the mountain lion to its rightful place in North American wildlands, to a community where humans dwell with respect and tolerance for wild species.

Endorsed by:


-David Parsons * Michael Soulè * Brian Miller * Dave Foreman

To endorse this vision statement individually or for a group, please contact us.

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