The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long tradition of scientific excellence and always uses the best-available science to inform its work to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat for the benefit of the American public.
Created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, today's National Wildlife Refuge System protects habitats and wildlife across the country, from the Alaskan tundra to subtropical wetlands. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge System's 560-plus refuges cover more than 150 million acres and protect nearly 1,400 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
While national wildlife refuges were created to protect wildlife, they are for people too. Refuges are ideal places for people of all ages to explore and connect with the natural world. We invite you to learn more about and visit the national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
The Mountain-Prairie Region's Office of Ecological Services (ES) works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, ES personnel work with Federal, State, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to avoid, minimize, and mitigate threats to our Nation's natural resources.
Providing leadership in the conservation of migratory bird habitat through partnerships, grants, and outreach for present and future generations. The Migratory Bird Program is responsible for maintaining healthy migratory bird populations for the benefit of the American people.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in the Mountain-Prairie Region helps conserve, protect, and enhance aquatic resources and provides economically valuable recreational fishing to anglers across the country. The program comprises 12 National Fish Hatcheries.
Law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The Office of Law Enforcement contributes to Service efforts to manage ecosystems, save endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species, and promote international wildlife conservation.
External Affairs staff in the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides support to the regional office and field stations to communicate and facilitate information about the Service's programs to the public, media, Congress, Tribes, partners, and other stakeholders in the 8-state region.
Gray Wolf. Credit: Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf / USFWS.
Gray wolf taking a look back. Credit: Eric Cole / USFWS.
Gray wolf. Credit: Gary Kramer / USFWS.
Gray wolf (Canis lupus)
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.
The NRM gray wolf population continues to be robust, stable, and self-sustaining exceeding recovery goals in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming since 2002. Wolves in the NRM, with the exception of Wyoming, were delisted in 2011 giving management authority to the States. The five-year federal oversight period for Idaho and Montana ended in 2015 yet wolf populations remain well above minimum federal management objectives of 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves in each state.
On April 26, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a U.S. District Court decision and issued a final mandate delisting wolves in Wyoming which reverted management authority back to the State. The Service will continue to assist, advise, and support state and federal agency partners to ensure a viable, self-sustaining wolf population in Wyoming during the five-year post-delisting monitoring period and into the future. Wolves have continued to increase in number and expand their range westward beyond the original NRM boundary in Oregon and Washington and have recently begun to recolonize portions of northern California.
The Service expects the entire NRM wolf population to maintain a long-term average of around 1,000 wolves. Wolves in the NRM represent a 400-mile 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.
January 4, 2021 - More than 45 years after gray wolves were first listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its many conservation partners are announcing the successful recovery of the gray wolf and its delisting from the ESA. State and tribal wildlife management agency professionals will resume responsibility for sustainable management and protection of delisted gray wolves in states with gray wolf populations, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitors the species for five years to ensure the continued success of the species.
September 2014 - Federal District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the delisting of wolves in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Therefore, wolves are again listed as a nonessential experimental population in all of Wyoming.
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.