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, in collaboration with other federal, state and tribal agencies, is announcing the 2015 Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) gray wolf population numbers. This annual report is conducted as part of the Service’s work to monitor the NRM wolf population to ensure that it continues to exceed recovery goals under professional state management.

The NRM wolf population continues to be robust, stable and self-sustaining. As of December 31, 2015, there were at least 1,704 wolves in 282 packs (including 95 breeding pairs) in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The wolf population has exceeded recovery goals identified by the Service and partner biologists since 2002. Wolves continue to expand their range westward in eastern Oregon and Washington. An additional 200 wolves in 34 packs (including 19 breeding pairs) were estimated in Oregon and Washington. The total wolf population in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington was estimated to be 1,904 wolves.

The report is a cooperative effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Wyoming Fish and Game, the Nez Perce Tribe, National Park Service, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Wind River Tribes, Colville Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Utah Department of Natural Resources and USDA Wildlife Services.

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.
    • 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 5,510 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