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

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

Removal of Wyoming’s Gray Wolves from Endangered Species List Final Step in Historic Recovery Across Northern Rockies

Action by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Response to D.C. Appeals Court Ruling Upholding Previous Delisting Determination

Recovery of the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains is one of our nation’s greatest conservation success stories. Today, that success was re-affirmed with the filing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of a notice again delisting the species in the state of Wyoming. Wolves have already been delisted throughout the rest of the Northern Rockies population.

The Service’s action was in response to a final decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturning an earlier U.S. District Court decision vacating the Service’s 2012 delisting rule for Wyoming wolves. The court’s decision recognizes the recovered status of gray wolves and affirms the Service’s determination that the state’s regulatory mechanisms are sufficient for conserving wolves under its authority. The Service will continue to monitor the population for the next five years to ensure recovery criteria are met.

The Service will be working closely with the State of Wyoming to transition wolf management post delisting. Meanwhile, the state’s annual wolf numbers reveal an enduring healthy population, with approximately 377 wolves in 52 packs with 25 breeding pairs. The Northern Rocky Mountain population as a whole continues to be self-sustaining, with numbers well above federal management objectives. Wolves have continued to expand their range westward into Oregon, Washington, northern California and Nevada.

News Release

History of Federal Actions

    • On July 1, 2015, the Service 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.
    • 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.
    • On December 19, 2014, following two court orders, the Service reinstated regulatory protections under the ESA for the gray wolf in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes on February 20, 2015.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued its mandate consistent with its March 3, 2017, opinion reversing the U.S. District Court’s vacatur of the Service’s 2012 final rule for gray wolves in Wyoming.
    • On April 26, 2017, the Service delivered a final rule to comply with a court order that reinstated the removal of federal protections for the gray wolf in Wyoming under the ESA.
    • The gray wolf has rebounded from the brink of extinction to exceed population targets by as much as 300 percent. Today, there are estimated to be 5,691 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