Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service to Initiate Status Review of Gray Wolf in the Western U.S.

September 15, 2021

Contact(s):

Joe Szuszwalak, 303-236-4336, joseph_szuszwalak@fws.gov


A grayish brown wolf is visible through the tall grass.

A gray wolf (Canis lupus) as seen at the National Elk Refuge. Credit: Lori Iverson/USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed the initial review of two petitions filed to list gray wolves (Canis lupus) in the western U.S. as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service finds that the petitions present substantial, credible information indicating that a listing action may be warranted and will initiate a comprehensive status review of the gray wolf in the western U.S.  

On June 1, 2021, the Service received a petition (dated May 26, 2021) to list the gray wolf Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment (DPS) or a new western U.S. DPS as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA. The Service received a second, similar petition on July 29, 2021 (addendum). The Federal Register notice will serve as the 90-day finding for both petitions.

Under the ESA, a DPS is a portion of a species' or subspecies' population or range and is described geographically instead of biologically. The first petition proposes listing a Northern Rocky Mountain DPS consisting of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small portion of north-central Utah. Both petitions also propose some alternative Western U.S. DPS to include all, or part, of the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS states with the addition of California, Colorado, Nevada, and in one petition, northern Arizona.

The Service finds the petitioners present substantial information that potential increases in human-caused mortality may pose a threat to the gray wolf in the western U.S. The Service also finds that new regulatory mechanisms in Idaho and Montana may be inadequate to address this threat. Therefore, the Service finds that gray wolves in the western U.S. may warrant listing.

Substantial 90-day findings require only that the petitioner provide information that the proposed action may be warranted. The next steps for the Service include in-depth status reviews and analyses using the best available science and information to arrive at a 12-month finding on whether listing is warranted.  If so, listing a species is done through a separate rulemaking process, with public notice and comment.

The public can play an important role by submitting relevant information to inform the in-depth status review through www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-ES-2021-0106, beginning September 17, 2021, upon publication in the Federal Register and will include details on how to submit comments.

The 90-day finding and petition review form associated with this announcement are now available for review.

Visit the Service online to learn more about gray wolves and the ESA petition process.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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