Photo: Gray wolf. Credit: Gary Kramer / USFWS
Photo Caption: Gray wolf. Credit: Gary Kramer / USFWS

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that a petition to reclassify all gray wolves in the conterminous United States, except for the Mexican wolf in the Southwest, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not present substantial information indicating that reclassification may be warranted. As a result, the Service will take no further action on the petition, which was submitted by the Humane Society of the United States and 22 other petitioners in January.

The Service’s review concluded that the petition did not provide information to indicate that the population petitioned for listing, which does not correspond to any currently listed gray wolf population, may qualify as a listable entity under the ESA. 

The Service also found that the petition failed to provide substantial information indicating these wolves may meet the definition of a threatened species specifically are likely to be in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range.

This finding will appear in a 90-day batched notice with 30 other petition findings, both not-substantial and substantial with separate docket numbers. The notice will publish in the Federal Register on July 1, 2015, and also will be available on the Federal Register website.

Federal Register Notice (pdf)

History of Federal Actions

    • On June 13, 2013, the Service concurrently proposed a rule in the Federal Register to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species and list the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) subspecies as endangered and expand recovery efforts in the Southwest.
    • On January 16, 2015, the Service finalized a rule listing Mexican wolves as a separate entity under the ESA and revised the regulations for the nonessential experimental population of the Mexican wolf under section 10(j) of the ESA to make it more effective in recovering this endangered subspecies, which became effective on February 17, 2015.
    • The Service’s 2013 comprehensive review determined that the current listing for gray wolf, which was developed 35 years ago, erroneously included large geographical areas outside the species’ historical range. In addition, the review found that the then-current gray wolf listing did not reasonably represent the range of the only remaining of the Mexican wolf population in the Southwest.
    • The gray wolf has rebounded from the brink of extinction to exceed population targets by as much as 300 percent. Today, there are at least 5,521 gray wolves in the contiguous United States. Wolf numbers continue to be robust, stable and self-sustaining.

Additional Wolf Resources

Gray Wolf species profile

Regional Information: Mountain Prairie RegionMidwest RegionSouthwest Region