TODAY   |  March 16, 2012

The importance of protecting wolves

David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation dispels common misconceptions about North American gray wolves and explains why they should be protected.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning on today's call of the wild , who's afraid of the big bad wolf ? all of us right here actually. here to clear up misconceptions about north american gray wolves and tell us why so many are working to protect them is david from the wildlife federation. to be honest, we're scared.

>> you don't need to be. they are gray wolves , important predators in north america . but wolves don't attack people. there is a myth of the big bad wolf . they are critically important predators. they keep prey populations under control. they control smaller predators and balance the eco-system.

>> that liam neeson movie?

>> a thumbs down.

>> little red riding hood ?

>> she lies.

>> not like we should pet them. you have to show respect.

>> exactly. these guys --

>> we respect you.

>> they are from howling woods farm in jackson, new jersey. they are rescue animals. people tried to make them pets. you should not have a wolf as a pet.

>> these were one of the most widespread species in the world. yet the habitat has been shrinking.

>> human beings have a mythology about wolves and we pretty much wiped them out. they were found across the northern hemisphere . in the u.s. now they are found only at a couple of spots in the great lakes area, the northern rockies. we have wiped them out of most of the lower 48. in canada one reason i brought them here is the national wildlife federation is trying to raise awareness about a poisoning and shooting campaign the government of canada is doing to protect caribou. it's because of tar sands development. there is political pressure on the u.s. and i want people to know these beautiful animals, their wild kin will be poisoned, shot out of helicopters to feed our addiction to dirty oil.

>> they are carnivores, but you would point out they keep the environment in balance.

>> absolutely. if you don't have predators in an eco-system, the prey species overpop lates. they eat the plants, destroy habitats for smaller animals. the national wildlife federation got wolves back in yellow stone in 1995 . they had eaten the plants. smaller animals went away. wolves were put back in the top of the food chain , controlled the elk population, eliminate coyotes which were eating smaller animals. wolves and any large carnivore balances the eco-system. we need them and particularly in canada we need these animals. we should not poison them for energy purposes.

>> is there a lone wolf ?

>> they live in packs but once in a while an individual animal breaks off to keep genetic diversity. they form a new pack.

>> what's she giving them snm they are snacking on cheese. they love cheese.

>> we have pot roast upstairs.

>> if folks want to save the wolves go to the today.com or national wildlife federation .

>> thank you so much. coming