It is estimated that two million gray wolves once inhabited North America. By the mid-twentieth century, wolves had been all but eradicated from the contiguous United States—driven to the brink of extinction by hunters and ranchers. Federal protections under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531–43 (2012), and the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s, have allowed the wolf to rebound in certain areas. Today, despite these efforts, the U.S. gray wolf population stands at a mere 5,500.
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