Protect Keystone Species

Keystone species help create the conditions for other wildlife and plants to thrive. Wolves, for instance, help keep elk from stripping riverbanks bare, which benefits trout and beavers and provides habitat for songbirds. Yet across America, many of these species are under threat from development and mismanagement. If we lose them, we'll also lose much of what we love about wild places.

Protecting keystone species like wolves and grizzly bears is an important priority at NRDC, and one that we pursue by pushing for science-based management of these animals and taking the government to court when necessary. We also call for improved management strategies, such as a national wolf-recovery plan that would be far more effective than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s current patchwork approach. More protected wildlife corridors would also allow the grizzly population to remain diverse and resilient.

A gray wolf and her pups
James Michael Kruger/jimkruger/iStock

As development spreads across the West and humans and animals share more of the same land, wolves and grizzlies sometimes come into contact with people and livestock. NRDC also promotes solutions to reduce conflict. We work with ranchers in Montana to help predators and livestock coexist through various problem-solving techniques, such as installing electric fences and hiring range riders. We also support small-scale fencing projects for landowners near Yellowstone National Park so that wild bison can roam freer and farther year-round.

NRDC is also working to protect iconic species from energy development—both in the case of renewable power projects and oil and gas drilling. The greater sage grouse, for example, is surviving on just half of its historic range, and oil and gas wells, wind farms, and other energy projects continue to chisel away at that land. NRDC is pushing for comprehensive recovery plans for the bird at the state and national levels while also encouraging smart siting for renewable power projects.

Resource Center