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

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

Department of the Interior Celebrates Recovery of the Gray Wolf with Proposal to Return Management to States, Tribes

The gray wolf, an iconic species of the American West, had all but disappeared from landscape in the lower 48 states by the early 20th century. Now it roams free in nine states and is stable and healthy throughout its current range. This constitutes one of the greatest comebacks for an animal in U.S. conservation history. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is re-affirming the success of this recovery with a proposal to remove all gray wolves from protection under Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Thanks to the partnerships involving states, tribes, conservation organizations and private landowners galvanized under the ESA, the Service is now able to propose turning management of all gray wolves back to the states and tribes who have been so central to the species’ recovery. This proposal excludes Mexican gray wolves, which would remain listed under the ESA.

The gray wolf joins the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, American alligator, brown pelican and 33 other species of animals and plants in U.S. states, territories and waters that have been brought back from the brink with the help of the ESA. Countless more have improved or stabilized.

The gray wolf has already been delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The states of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington have shown their ability to manage this delisted wolf population responsibly so that it remains healthy and sustainable. Populations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are also strong and wolves have begun to expand into northern California and Western Oregon and Washington.

In total, the range-wide gray wolf population stands at more than 6,000, exceeding the combined recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes populations.

News Release »
Frequently Asked Questions »
Peer Review Plan and Peer Review Report »
Peer Review Statement of Work »
Bulletin 60-day Extension »
Bulletin Hearing Notice »

The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on March 15, 2019. Comments must be received on or before July 15, 2019. All comments will be posted on This generally means any personal information provided through the process will be posted.

To comment on the proposed rule electronically, please click on the link below. Then click the Comment Now button:

The Federal Register notice provides additional detailed information on how the public can submit written comments and information.

Additional Wolf Resources

Gray Wolf species profile

Regional Information: Mountain-Prairie RegionMidwest RegionSouthwest Region