Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains
Mountain-Prairie Region
News, Information and Recovery Status Reports
Gray wolf

UPDATE
Overturned delisting decision means previous Federal rules back in place

On September 23, 2014, the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the delisting of wolves in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  At present, we are still evaluating this decision.  However, the effect of the decision is the reinstatement of Federal protections that were in place prior to our 2012 delisting.  Therefore, wolves are again listed as a nonessential experimental population in all of Wyoming.  Take of wolves may be authorized only by the nonessential experimental population rules or by permits issued under section 10 of the ESA.  All of Wyoming except the Wind River Indian Reservation again operates under the 1994 nonessential experimental population rule.  The Wind River Indian Reservation can again operate under the 2005 nonessential experimental population rule, as amended in 2008. 


Wolf restoration in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) has been an amazing success thanks to both the resiliency of wolves and the cooperative efforts of Federal, State, and Tribal agencies, conservation groups, and private citizens; including ranchers, sportsmen, and outfitters. 

Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Distribution

The most recent data available (end of 2013) indicate that the NRM wolf population contains at least 1,691 wolves, at least 320 packs, and at least 78 breeding pairs. This population has exceeded its recovery goals since 2002. By every biological measure the NRM wolf population is recovered and remains secure under State management. 

Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Population Trends in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming: 1982-2013

Long-term, the Service expects the entire NRM population to maintain a long-term average of around 1,000 wolves.  These wolves represent a 400-mile southern range extension of a vast contiguous wolf population that numbers over 12,000 wolves in western Canada and about 65,000 wolves across all of Canada and Alaska.

The Service and our partners will monitor wolves in the region for at least 5 years to ensure that the population’s recovered status is not compromised, and if relisting is ever warranted, we will make prompt use of the Act’s emergency listing provisions.

Recent Actions: 

June 2013 – Following successful recovery efforts in the NRM and western Great Lakes regions, the Service proposed to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the remainder of the United States and Mexico, while maintaining protection for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest.  This action has no impact on the NRM population, but more information can be found here

August 2012 – The Service announced that the Wyoming population of gray wolves was recovered and no longer warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act.  Beginning September 30th, wolves in Wyoming were managed by the state under an approved management plan, as they are in the states of Idaho and Montana.

May 2011 - The Service published a direct final rule delisting wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah. This final rule implements legislative language included in the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations bill. The Service and the states will monitor wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS and gather population data for at least five years.

April 2009 -- Final Rule to Identify the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Population of Gray Wolf as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and to Revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

February 2008 - Final Rule Establishing and Delisting the NRM Gray Wolf DPS

January 2008 - Final Rule for Revision of Special Regulation for the Central Idaho and Yellowstone Area Nonessential Experimental Populations of Gray Wolves

February 2007 - Proposed rule Establishing and Delisting the NRM Gray Wolf DPS

August 1, 2006 - FWS Announces 12-Month Finding on a Petition to Establish and Delist the NRM Gray Wolf Population:

January 2005 - New Regulation (10(j) Special Rule) Allows Greater Management Flexibility of Gray Wolves for the States of Montana and Idaho:

2003 - Final Rule to Designate 3 District Population Segments and Change the ESA Status of the Gray Wolf throughout Most of the Lower 48 States:

1994 - Establishment of Nonessential Experimental Populations of Gray Wolves:

1978 - Reclassification of the Gray Wolf in the United States and Mexico, with Determination of Critical Habitat in Michigan and Minnesota:

1974 - Gray Wolf Listed as Endangered in the Lower 48 States and Mexico:

Post-Delisting Wolf Monitoring: Annual Reviews

Post-Delisting Wolf Monitoring:
On-The-Spot-Reviews

Wolf Management Memorandums of Agreement

State Wolf Management in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming:

Other State and Tribal Wolf Management:


Last updated: September 25, 2014