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Nature's Biggest Comebacks

Gray Wolf

Our scientists have chosen the top 10 comeback stories in nature. These are the places, ecosystems and species that have been brought back from the brink of disaster. See what made the cut from the last century — and what we hope will be on our list in the next.

Gray Wolf

Gray wolves can appear menacing to humans: They live in packs and can grow as large as 175 pounds.

But what really did them in is their fondness for sheep and cattle.

And as ranching expanded across the Midwest in the 20th century, wolves were killed for being a threat to livestock. But after their listing on the Endangered Species List in 1974, wolf populations began to bounce back in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Today there are estimated to be more than 4,000 wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. Wolves in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah were just delisted. Although not fully out of the woods, most experts agree — el lobo is here to stay!

The Endangered Species Act has been crucial in helping protect large predators like the wolf. Education has also played a key role, as people learn to adapt to living alongside them.

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