9 Best Charities for Protecting Wolves (Complete 2021 List)

9 Best Charities for Protecting Wolves (Complete 2021 List)

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Carla Shaik

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Wolf populations around the globe are decreasing at an alarming rate. For example, grey wolves have been extirpated from many of their natural habitats and there are estimated to be just 20 red wolves left in the wild. These mysterious animals have been viewed in a negative light for centuries, with many people believing that they are dangerous and aggressive to humans and livestock. Charities around the globe are actively trying to change these misconceptions and are working to ensure these beautiful animals are around for future generations to appreciate. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for protecting wolves?

The best charities for protecting wolves in terms of overall impact are Wolf Haven International and the California Wolf Center. Charities such as the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary and the Wolf Conservation Center do amazing work caring for wolves that have been rescued from abusive captive environments.

Whether you want to support critical wolf breeding programs or ensure that no wolf is ever kept in unsuitable captive conditions, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for protecting wolves are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Protecting Wolves Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements. They operate all over the world, from North America to Ethiopia to protect the world’s remaining wolf populations and to change public views of these incredibly intelligent animals.

Many of the charities on this list focus their efforts on rescuing abused and captive-bred wolves. Others work to ensure wild wolves are around for future generations to appreciate by participating in breeding and reintroduction programs for the most endangered wolf species. Yet all of them share the same goal – to ensure that wolves are able to thrive in the wild for years to come. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Protecting Wolves

Below are our favorite charities for protecting wolves (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

Wolf Haven International: Providing Sanctuary For Mistreated Wolves

Wolf Haven International was founded in 1982 by Steve and Linda Kuntz to provide life-long sanctuary and care for captive-born wolves. Today, the sanctuary is accredited by both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association and works to educate the public on the behavior and needs of wolves.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Wolf Haven International holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar and a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“To conserve and protect wolves and their habitat.”

Wolf Haven International

What they do: Wolf Haven International runs a private sanctuary for wolves rescued from unsuitable captive environments. At the site, trained staff provides the wolves with high-quality food, enrichment, and progressive medical care throughout their lives. The sanctuary also runs private tours to allow visitors to see the wolves and learn more about them, as well as numerous virtual education programs on conservation methods and wolf behavior. In addition, the charity participates in two federally managed Species Survival Programs for the Red wolf and the Mexican gray wolf by breeding litters and releasing them back into the wild.

What they’ve achieved: To date, Wolf Haven International has rescued and provided sanctuary for 300 displaced, captive-born wolves. So far, the charity has successfully bred 10 endangered Mexican gray wolf litters, and 4 Red wolf litters. Wolf Haven International has also released 3 Mexican gray wolf packs back into the wild. To date, the charity is the only wolf sanctuary to receive accreditation from the Global Federation of Accredited Sanctuaries (GFAS).

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Wolf Haven International through their website. You can also support the charity by adopting a wolf or by purchasing merchandise from their online shop

California Wolf Center: Saving The Mexican Gray Wolf

The California Wolf Center was founded in 1977 by Paul and Judy Kenis to assist in the recovery of wild wolf species through education, conservation, and research. Today, the charity is heavily involved in captive breeding programs for wolves, including the endangered Mexican gray wolf.  

Their impact and transparency ratings: The California Wolf Center holds the Bronze Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“To teach the public about the importance of wolves in their ecosystem.”

California Wolf Center

What they do: The Wolf Conservation Center educates the public on wolf behavior through their Julian Visitor Center, as well as multiple education programs including their Wildlife Handling Course. In 2006, the charity set up the Mexican Wolf Conservation Program to advance human-wolf coexistence in America. Through the initiative, the California Wolf Center protects vulnerable Mexican wolf populations by providing financial support for ranchers working to prevent wildlife-livestock conflict, as well as cross-fostering initiatives, and habitat monitoring. The charity is also heavily involved in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Program

What they’ve achieved: Today, the California Wolf Center is one of the largest breeding facilities for Mexican wolves in America. Their Mexican Wolf Conservation Program has been so successful that the charity now supports and protects every wild Mexican wolf pack in the country. Thanks to the work of the California Wolf Center and other like-minded organizations, Mexican wolf populations saw a 14% increase in growth in 2020, raising the number of individuals to 186.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the California Wolf Center through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting a wolf or by purchasing items from their online shop

International Wolf Center: Teaching The World About Wolves

The Committee for the International Wolf Center was founded in 1985 by a group of biologists led by Dr. L. David Mech, after they consulted in a successful ‘Wolves and Humans’ exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The International Wolf Center first opened its doors in June 1993 as an education hub to teach local communities about wolves and to allow visitors to get up close and personal with these enigmatic but misunderstood animals. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The International Wolf Center holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“Advancing the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future.”

International Wolf Center

What they do: The International Wolf Center is a teaching and learning organization that educates local school children and communities on the behaviors and needs of wolves. They do this by allowing public access to their facility so people can view the wolves in their care. The charity also runs online educational experiences including their WolfLink Virtual Learning program aimed at school children, as well as various online webinars. They also provide educational adventure programs for all ages to encourage a love of wolves.

What they’ve achieved: The International Wolf Center provides classroom visits to over 13,000 school children every year. Since the Wolf Centre was established, their memberships have grown to include people in all 50 states across the US. In 2019, 38,734 people visited the International Wolf Center and 2,953 students participated in their live Minnesota WolfLink Video Conferences. In the same year, the charity also distributed 1,392 Wolf Discovery Kits to classrooms across the country.  

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the International Wolf Center through their website. You can also support the charity by becoming a Wolf Guardian or by purchasing items from their online shop

W.O.L.F. Sanctuary: Wolves Offered Life And Friendship

The W.O.L.F. Sanctuary was founded in 1995 by Fred Johnston to improve the lives of wolves and wolf-dogs across America. Today, the charity manages a successful sanctuary for wolves that have been rescued from unsuitable captive environments.  

Their impact and transparency ratings: The W.O.L.F. Sanctuary holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has an 80% Encompass rating for Finance and Accountability from Charity Navigator

“Improving the quality of life for wolves and wolf dogs through rescue, sanctuary, and education.

W.O.L.F. Sanctuary

What they do: The W.O.L.F. Sanctuary rescues and cares for wolves that had previously been victims of the captive wildlife trade, both in America and internationally. The charity also runs a number of educational presentations designed to raise awareness of the issues surrounding keeping wolves as pets. 

What they’ve achieved: The W.O.L.F. Sanctuary currently cares for 30 wolves that have been rescued from abusive and captive environments across the US. In 2020, the charity rescued over 100 wolves, which included two major rescues involving more than 75 individuals in Texas and Michigan. In the same year, the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary provided educational programs to 415 school children in wolf behavior, biology, and the captive wildlife crisis.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary through their website to help them move to a larger facility where they will be able to care for more wolves. You can also support the charity by purchasing items from their online shop, or by volunteering

Wolf Conservation Center: Wolves Are Worth Saving

The Wolf Conservation Center was founded in 1999 by Helene Grimaud to protect two of the most endangered wolf species; the Mexican gray wolf and the Red wolf. Today, the charity participates heavily in reintroduction programs for both species and advocates for more protection for them in the wild.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Wolf Conservation Center holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar and a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“Teaching people about wolves, their relationship to the environment and the human role in protecting their future.”

Wolf Conservation Center

What they do: The Wolf Conservation Center uses their three rescued ambassador wolves to teach the public on wolf behavior and biology, as well as to debunk the myths that surrounded these misunderstood animals. They do this through their various education programs including their virtual field trips, community outreach programs, and their Summer Wolf Camps for kids. The charity also participates in the federal Species Survival Plan recovery programs for the Mexican gray wolf and the Red wolf, through their carefully managed breeding and reintroduction programs.

What they’ve achieved: To date, the Wolf Conservation Center has remained one of the three largest holding facilities in North America for the Red wolf and the Mexican Gray wolf. As of 2019, they held 50 rescued individuals in 32 acres of land, with the aim of releasing them back into the wild. In the same year, they taught 17,106 students about wolf behavior and its ecological importance through the delivery of 595 education programs.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Wolf Conservation Center through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting a wolf or by volunteering at the center.

Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program: Conserving The World’s Remaining Ethiopian Wolves

The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program was founded in 1995 by Claudio Sillero and Karen Laurenson in response to a scientific study that revealed there were only around 500 of these animals left in the wild. It came about as a partnership between the Born Free Foundation and the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). Today, the charity is recognized as a world leader in the field of carnivore conservation.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Born Free Foundation holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, as well as a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“To secure viable and ecologically functioning Ethiopian wolf populations and habitats.”

Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program

What they do: The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program works closely with rangers and Wolf Ambassadors across Ethiopia to closely monitor Ethiopian wolf populations and identify any threats that may affect their numbers. They also work to vaccinate wild Ethiopian wolves against Canine Distemper and Rabies which are major threats to the survival of the species. In addition, the charity conducts conservation translocation projects for Ethiopian wolves to improve the species’ conservation status. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program has vaccinated 22 wolf families against rabies and also vaccinated 3,200 dogs in local communities which equates to a 93% coverage rate. In 2020, all 40 remaining wild packs were monitored and 42 community guards were trained in how to look after Ethiopian wolf protected areas. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program through the Wildlife Conservation Network website. You can also donate via the Canid Specialist Group using PayPal.

Yellowstone Forever: Protecting And Preserving Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Forever was founded in 1933 as the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. The charity was responsible for the first-ever reintroduction of Gray wolves to the park after they were eradicated from the area in the 1920s. Today, their Yellowstone Wolf Project is one of the most detailed studies of a large carnivore in the world.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Yellowstone Forever holds the Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar and a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“We protect, preserve, and enhance Yellowstone National Park through education and philanthropy.”

Yellowstone Forever

What they do: Yellowstone Forever runs numerous projects to protect the diversity and ecology of Yellowstone National Park. Their Yellowstone Wolf Project has been running for over 25 years and was responsible for the first reintroduction of gray wolves to the park in 1995. Today, the charity oversees the research and monitoring of local wolf populations with the use of tracking collars. This helps them to understand predator-prey interactions and population dynamics of the wolves. The charity also conducts field seminars, Lodging & Learning packages, and private tours of Yellowstone National Park to educate the public on the need to preserve this area and its carnivores. 

What they’ve achieved: Since 1995, Yellowstone Forever has relocated 41 wolves from Western Canada and Northwestern Montana into the Yellowstone National Park. Today, there are 93 wolves in eight packs with territories in the park. The return of wolves has had a huge impact on the ecology of the park, with beavers and various bird species returning to the area. Their reintroduction also caused forests of Aspen and Willow to reappear after they were decimated by growing Elk populations.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Yellowstone Forever through their website. You can also support the charity by becoming a Yellowstone Forever Society Member or by purchasing through AmazonSmile.  

Defenders Of Wildlife: Making A Difference For Wildlife

Defenders Of Wildlife was originally founded as the Defenders Of Fur Bearers in 1947 to preserve wild animal species in North America. Today, the charity has extended its mission to include wildlife habitat and biodiversity. However, their main focus is still on the preservation of wild carnivores, including wolves.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Defenders Of Wildlife holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, as well as a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“Dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.”

Defenders Of Wildlife

What they do: Defenders Of Wildlife works with local communities, scientists, and governments to protect a range of species native to North America, including the endangered gray wolf and the critically endangered red wolf. They do this by working with ranchers across the wolves’ natural habitat, implementing non-lethal deterrents to prevent wolves from taking livestock, and working with local communities to build social acceptance of wild wolves. They also work closely with legislators and governments by providing them with scientifically-backed data to demand more protection for wild animals in the House or Senate. 

What they’ve achieved: In 2020, thanks to the advocacy of Defenders Of Wildlife, nearly 1.5 million residents of Colorado voted to pass Proposition 114. This means that wildlife officials will develop a science-based plan to reintroduce Gray wolves to Western Colorado by December 2023. The area has been without wolves for over 70 years

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Defenders Of Wildlife through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting an animal or by purchasing items from their online shop

American Wolf Foundation: Coexistence Is The Future

The American Wolf Foundation was founded in 2018 by Rachel Guthrie. As a child, she wanted to be a veterinarian but after learning about the plight of the Red wolf she decided she needed to act. She set up the American Wolf Foundation in her hometown of Missouri in the hope that her daughter would be able to hear the characteristic howl of Red wolves in her lifetime. Today, the charity works to unite key stakeholders to ensure conflict-free conservation for all wolf species in America. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The American Wolf Foundation holds the Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity has yet to be rated by Charity Navigator. 

“To see all American wolf species thriving in the wild and coexisting with humans.”

American Wolf Foundation

What they do: The American Wolf Foundation is working to preserve the critically endangered Red wolf through their Red Wolf Enclosure Campaign to allow AZA-accredited zoos to switch from just holding Red wolves, to captive breeding them. The charity has also partnered with the Red Wolf Education & Health Care Facility (REC) to provide educational materials on the plight of the Red wolf to visitors. 

What they’ve achieved: In May 2021, the charity issued its first $5000 Red wolf grants to two establishments; Henson Robinson Zoo in Springfield, Illinois, and Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton, New York, to assist in captive breeding programs for the critically endangered species. This work is essential as there are only estimated to be around 20 Red wolves left in the wild. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the American Wolf Foundation through their website, or you can register to sign up to their mailing list to receive the latest updates from the charity including their petitions. 

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for protecting wolves. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing the progress a charity makes in reaching its targets, the chances are not making positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place.

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is just up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to protecting wolves – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist, and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

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