Date of disappearance: probably the 1700s
Special power: Wolves can turn grassland into forest and create habitats that hundreds of species can use, by keeping deer on the move so that they can’t overgraze fragile tree seedlings. Wolves are likely to reduce the loss of arable crops
Suitability for reintroduction: There’s no ecological reason why wolves can’t live in some parts of Britain – where there is enough habitat and wild prey. The main obstacle is social, whether people are ready to share the landscape with this species.
Wolves live in a huge range of habitats and human population densities. They present a very low risk to people. Wolves have re-established themselves across most countries in Europe. They are a tourist draw despite being shy creatures that avoid people where possible.
They suffer from many centuries of demonisation and mythmaking. No reintroduction should be attempted without widespread public consent and enthusiasm. We would have to manage livestock differently if wolves were present, as people do around the world. There would need to be compensation schemes for the small number of livestock losses that would result.