Species Profile
Environmental Conservation Online System

Gray wolf (Canis lupus)

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae

Listing Status:  (and others listed below)

General Information

The Gray Wolf, being a keystone predator, is an integral component of the ecosystems to which it typically belongs. The wide range of habitats in which wolves can thrive reflects their adaptability as a species, and includes temperate forests, mountains, tundra, taiga, and grasslands. Gray wolves were originally listed as subspecies or as regional populations of subspecies in the contiguous United States and Mexico. In 1978, we reclassifed the gray wolf as an endangered population at the species level (C. lupus) throughout the contiguous United States and Mexico, except for the Minnesota gray wolf population, which was classified as threatened. Gray wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes were delisted due to recovery in 2011 and 2012.

Population detail

The FWS is currently monitoring the following populations of the Gray wolf 

Map of Species occurrence

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Map Image Map of Species occurrence Map of Species occurrence
Map of Species occurrence Map of Species occurrence
Map of Species occurrence Map of Species occurrence
Map of Species occurrence Map of Species occurrence

This map represents our best available information about where a species is currently known to or or is believed to occur; however, it should NOT be used as an official species list for Section 7 Consultation purposes. To obtain an official species list for this purpose, please visit the Information, Planning, and Conservation (IPaC) System (click here: http://ecos.fws.gov/ipac)

  • Population location: U.S.A.: All of AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT and WV; those portions of AZ, NM, and TX not included in an experimental population as set forth below; and portions of IA, IN, IL, ND, OH, OR, SD, UT, and WA as follows: (1) Southern IA, (that portion south of the centerline of Highway 80); (2) Most of IN (that portion south of the centerline of Highway 80); (3) Most of IL (that portion south of the centerline of Highway 80); (4) Western ND (that portion south and west of the Missouri River upstream to Lake Sakakawea and west of the centerline of Highway 83 from Lake Sakakawea to the Canadian border); (5) Most of OH (that portion south of the centerline of Highway 80 and east of the Maumee River at Toledo); (6) Western OR (that portion of OR west of the centerline of Highway 395 and Highway 78 north of Burns Junction and that portion of OR west of the centerline of Highway 95 south of Burns Junction); (7) Western SD (that portion south and west of the Missouri River); (8) Most of Utah (that portion of UT south and west of the centerline of Highway 84 and that portion of UT south of Highway 80 from Echo to the UT / WY Stateline); and (9) Western WA (that portion of WA west of the centerline of Highway 97 and Highway 17 north of Mesa and that portion of WA west of the centerline of Highway 395 south of Mesa). Mexico.
    Listing status:  Endangered
    This population has been proposed for delisting
  • Population location: U.S.A. (portions of AZ, NM and TX - see section 17.84(k))
    Listing status:  Experimental Population, Non-Essential
  • Population location: U.S.A. (WY see 17.84 (i) and (n))
    Listing status:  Delisted due to Recovery
  • Population location: Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Distinct Population Segment; Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and north central Utah
    Listing status:  Delisted due to Recovery
  • Population location: Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment; Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan; the eastern half of North Dakota and South Dakota; the northern half of Iowa; the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana; and the northwestern portion of Ohio.
    Listing status:  Delisted due to Recovery
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
03/09/1978 Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6) U.S.A.: All of AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT and WV; those portions of AZ, NM, and TX not included in an experimental population; and portions of IA, IN, IL, ND, OH, OR, SD, UT, and WA. Mexico.
01/12/1998 Southwest Region (Region 2) Mexican gray wolf, EXPN population
03/09/1978 Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6) WY, EXPN population
03/09/1978 Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6) Northern Rocky Mountain DPS (delisted, except WY)
03/09/1978 Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region (Region 3) Western Great Lakes DPS

» Federal Register Documents

Most Recent Federal Register Documents (Showing 5 of 72: view all)
Date Citation Page Title
07/25/2014 79 FR 43358 43373 ETWP; Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf: Proposed rule; revisions and notice of availability of a draft environmental impact statement; reopening of public comment period and announcement of public hearings.
02/10/2014 79 FR 7627 7629 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) by Listing It as Endangered; Proposed rule; notice of availability and reopening of comment period.
10/28/2013 78 FR 64192 64193 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Extending the Public Comment Periods and Rescheduling Public Hearings Pertaining to the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) and the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
10/02/2013 78 FR 60813 60815 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) by Listing It as Endangered: Proposed rule; announcement of public hearing.
09/05/2013 78 FR 54614 54616 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) by Listing It as Endangered; Proposed Rule; extension of public comment period and announcement of public hearings.
Most Recent Special Rule Publications (Showing 4 of 4)
Date Citation Page Title
01/28/2008 73 FR 4720 4736 Revision of Special Regulation for the Central Idaho and Yellowstone Area Nonessential Experimental Populations of Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains
07/06/2007 72 FR 36942 36949 Proposed Revision of Special Regulation for the Central Idaho and Yellowstone Area Nonessential Experimental Populations of Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains
01/12/1998 63 FR 1752 1772 ETWP; Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Gray Wolf in Arizona and New Mexico
05/01/1996 61 FR 19237 19248 ETWP; Proposed Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Gray Wolf in Arizona and New Mexico

» Action Plans

Action Plans (Showing 1 of 1)
Date Title
08/21/2009 Mexican wolf spotlight species action plan

» Recovery

Recovery Plan Information Search
Current Recovery Plan(s)
Date Title Plan Action Status Plan Status
05/05/2010 Final Mexican Wolf Conservation Assessment Recovery efforts in progress, but no implementation information yet to display Conservation Strategy
09/15/1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan View Implementation Progress Final
Other Recovery Documents (Showing 5 of 24: view all)
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
02/10/2014 79 FR 7627 7629 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) by Listing It as Endangered; Proposed rule; notice of availability and reopening of comment period.
  • Notice Doc. Availability
  • Notice Reopen Comment
  • 06/13/2013 78 FR 35663 35719 Removing the Gray Wolf(Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi ) by Listing It as Endangered; Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf; Proposed Rules
  • Proposed Delisting, Original Data in Error - Not a listable entity
  • 09/10/2012 77 FR 55530 55604 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Gray Wolf in Wyoming From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Removal of the Wyoming Wolf Populationís Status as an Experimental Population
  • Final Delisting, Recovered
  • 12/28/2011 76 FR 81666 81726 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revising the Listing of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Western Great Lakes
  • Final Delisting, Recovered
  • 10/05/2011 76 FR 61782 61823 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, Removal of the Gray Wolf in Wyoming From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Removal of the Wyoming Wolf Population's Status as an Experimental Population
  • Proposed Delisting, Recovered
  • Five Year Review
    Date Title
    02/29/2012 Lower 48 State and Mexico C. lupus listing, as revised. 5 YSR
    Delisting Documents
    Date Title
    06/04/2007 Draft Post Delisting Monitoring Plan

    » Critical Habitat

    Current Critical Habitat Documents (Showing 2 of 2)
    Date Citation Page Title Document Type Status
    03/09/1978 43 FR 9607 9615 Reclassification of the Gray Wolf in the U.S. and Mexico with Determination of Critical Habitat in Michigan and Minnisota Final Rule Final designated
    06/09/1977 42 FR 29527 29532 Proposed Reclassification of Gray wolf in U.S. and Mexico,Proposed Critical Habitat, Michigan and Minnesota; 42 FR 29527 29532 (Canis lupus) Proposed Rule Unknown

    To learn more about critical habitat please see http://criticalhabitat.fws.gov

    » Conservation Plans

    Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) (learn more) (Showing 5 of 6: view all)
    HCP Plan Summaries
    Cedar River Watershed HCP
    City of Tacoma, Tacoma Water HCP
    Plum Creek Timber Central Cascades HCP (aka I-90 HCP)
    Plum Creek Timber I-90 Land Exchange
    WDNR Forest Lands HCP
    Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA): (learn more) (Showing 1 of 1)
    SHA Plan Summaries
    Paterson, Thomas W. and Caroline H. (Spur Ranch)

    » Petitions

    Most Recent Petition Findings (Showing 5 of 10: view all)
    Date Citation Page Title Finding
    10/09/2012 77 FR 61375 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on Petitions To List the Mexican Gray Wolf as an Endangered Subspecies or Distinct Population Segment With Critical Habitat
  • Notice 12 month petition finding, Not warranted
  • 09/14/2010 75 FR 55730 55735 90-Day Finding on Petitions To Delist the Gray Wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Western Great Lakes
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Substantial
  • 08/04/2010 75 FR 46894 46898 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Mexican Gray Wolf as an Endangered Subspecies With Critical Habitat
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Substantial
  • 06/10/2010 75 FR 32869 32872 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List a Distinct Population Segment of the Gray Wolf in the Northeastern United States as Endangered
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Not substantial
  • 08/01/2006 71 FR 43410 43432 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To Establish the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Population (Canis lupus) as a Distinct Population Segment To Remove the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Distinct Population Segment From the List of Endangered and Threatened Species
  • Notice 12 month petition finding, Not warranted
  • » Life History

    Habitat Requirements

    Wolves are habitat generalists and lived thorughout the northern hemisphere. They only require ungulate prey and human-casued mortality rates that are not excessive.

    Food Habits

    Ungulates [wild and domestic] are the typical prey of wolves, but wolves also readily scavenge. Beaver are among the smallest important prey but wolves can utilize smaller mamals, birds, and fish.

    Movement / Home Range

    Wolves packs defend their territories from other wolves. Territory size is a function of prey density and can range from 25-1,500 square miles. Both male and female wolves disperse at equal rates and equal distances, sometimes >600 miles.

    Reproductive Strategy

    Normally first breed as yearings and once a year in February. One to 10 pups [normally ~5] are born 63 days later. Pups normally stay with pack until > 1 year old.

    » Other Resources

    NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

    ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

    Last updated: September 2, 2014