Wolf Watch, by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online! NPS Photo.

 Wolf Monitor, Current News, Sightings, Legal Action, Wolf Pack Maps, Photos     By News Reporter Cat Urbigkit • Pinedale Online!

 Home | General Info | Packs | Legal | Reference | Maps | Depredation | Wolves on the Ranch | Wolves Kill Dogs | Wolf Impacts | Control | Photos | Links | Humans


How we got here (a condensed history):
• The 1987 Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan (by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) called for the recovery of wolves “by securing and maintaining a minimum of 10 breeding pairs in each of three recovery areas for a minimum of three successive years.”

Natural recolonization of northwestern Montana from Canadian populations, while reintroduction would occur in Central Idaho and the Yellowstone region.
The recovery plan noted: “Delisting the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf will be contingent upon the species being classified as a game animal, furbearer or other protected status by the states.”

• After years of debate and study, including the issuance of environmental impact statements assessing the impact of a reintroduction program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued its final rule in November 1994, laying out the specific rules under which the reintroduction program would be conducted: “Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of Gray Wolves in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.” Although litigation continued for several more years, the final rules were eventually upheld by the federal court system.

One of the significant portions of the rule was the boundary of the Yellowstone experimental population area was defined to include the entire state of Wyoming (as well as that portion of Idaho that is east of Interstate Highway 15; and that portion of Montana that is east of Interstate Highway 15 and south of the Missouri River from Great Falls, Montana, to the eastern Montana border).

The rule established how wolves were to be managed after reintroduction and provided for control of chronic problem wolves once the population grew to more than six breeding pairs, an event that occurred early in the process.

The most important provision of the rule for livestock producers was the section that noted FWS or agencies designated by FWS “may take wolves that are determined to be ‘problem’ wolves. Problem wolves are defined as: wolves that in a calendar year attack livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, and mules) or as defined by State and tribal wolf management plans approved by the Service, or wolves that twice in a calendar year attack domestic animals (all domestic animals other than livestock).”

Once six or more breeding pairs were established in the experimental population area, “lethal control of problem wolves or permanent placement in captivity will be authorized but only after other methods to resolve livestock depredations have been exhausted.”

The rule also included the following provisions:
- Landowners on their private land and livestock producers legally using public land may harass any wolf in an opportunistic (the wolf cannot be purposely attracted, tracked, waited for, or searched out, then harassed) and noninjurious (no temporary or permanent physical damage may result) manner at any time, provided that such harassment is non- lethal or is not physically injurious to the gray wolf and is reported within seven days to FWS.

- Any livestock producers on their private land may take (including to kill or injure) a wolf in the act of killing, wounding, or biting livestock, provided that such incidents are to be immediately reported within 24 hours to FWS, and livestock freshly (less than 24 hours) wounded (torn flesh and bleeding) or killed by wolves must be evident. FWS or other authorized agencies are to confirm if livestock were wounded or killed by wolves.

- Authorized FWS to remove any wolf the agency “determines to present a threat to human life or safety.”

- “Any person may harass or take (kill or injure) a wolf in self defense or in defense of others,” provided that such take is reported immediately (within 24 hours) to FWS.

The rule also noted once the six breeding pairs were established, “no land-use restrictions may be employed outside of national parks or national wildlife refuges, unless wolf populations fail to maintain positive growth rates toward population recovery levels for two consecutive years.”

• Canadian wolves were released in Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho in 1995 and 1996. In 1995, 14 were released in Yellowstone and 15 in Idaho. The next year, Yellowstone received another 17 while Idaho took in 20 more. The 31 Yellowstone wolves and 35 Idaho wolves form the basis of the population that now has a minimum estimate of nearly 1,300 wolves at the end of 2006.

• The Wyoming Legislature enacted a new law for wolves, with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department finalizing its plan for wolf management in the summer of 2003. In the plan, Wyoming commits to maintaining at least 15 packs of wolves statewide including the National Parks, Parkway, National Elk Refuge and potentially the Wind River Indian Reservation. Of these 15 packs, seven packs will be maintained outside the National Parks and Parkway. The plan calls for wolves to be under dual classification of trophy game animal and predatory animal. Initially wolves will be trophy game animals in the National Parks, Parkway, and contiguous wilderness areas, but classified as predatory animals in the remainder of the state.

• FWS rejected the wolf plan as inadequate for it to proceed with the process of delisting wolves. FWS determined that Wyoming must designate wolves as trophy game statewide so the WYGF has legal authority to manage them, and Wyoming must clearly commit to always managing for 10 or more well distributed breeding pairs and over 100 wolves.

• Wyoming petitioned FWS to delist wolves, but FWS rejected the petition in a decision issued Aug. 1, 2006.

• The Wyoming Game and Fish Department wrote a detailed analysis of the FWS rejection of the delisting petition, before state officials finally filed a federal lawsuit over the matter in October 2006.

• FWS proposed wolf delisting in January 2007.

Final 2007 Wyoming Wolf Plan (November, 2007, 43 pages, 3.17 MB, PDF)

Federal Register Wolf Proposed Delisting (Feb. 8, 2007, 35 pages, 937K, PDF)

State of Wyoming Lawsuit vs. US Department of the Interior: US Fish & Wildlife Service; Dirk Kempthorne (10/10/06): Petition for review of final agency action and to compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed (516K, 14 page PDF)

US Fish & Wildlife Service official decision to reject Wyoming's petition to remove Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf from the Endangered & Threatened Species List (8/1/06): Response in the Federal Register. (6621K, 24-page PDF)

Final Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan (8/6/03): By the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. (621K, 155 pages PDF)

Final Rule (11/18/94): Final Rule: Endangered & Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Establishment of a Nonessential Experimental Population of Gray Wolves in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. (134K, 33 pages PDF)


Final 2007 Wyoming Wolf Plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that 30 or more breeding pairs composed of at least 300 wolves, with an equitable distribution among the three states for three successive years, constitutes a viable and recovered wolf population. That criterion was met at the end of 2002.

Wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies from 1973 through 2005 has cost about $21 million. Wolf recovery now costs about $2.7 million per year in federal tax money.


Pinedale Online!
Pinedale Online!

For Sponsorship info please call: 307-276-5699 or 307-360-7689,
E-mail for more information

 Home | General Info | Packs | Legal | Reference | Maps | Depredation | Wolves on the Ranch
Wolves and Humans | Wolves and Dogs | Wolf Impacts | Control | Photos | Links | About Cat
About Cat
Cat's Books
Paradise Sheep


Got a news tip?
Submit photos, stories, links, tips or information.
Cat Urbigkit
c/o Pinedale Online!
PO Box 2250
Pinedale WY 82941

For permission to reprint Cat's articles and photos (one-time, non-exclusive) posted here, please contact Cat Urbigkit at Pinedale Online.Contact Cat or Pinedale Online for sponsorship info: 307-360-7689 or 307-276-5699, Fax: 307-276-5414, support@pinedaleonline.com

This Wolf page is a special feature of Pinedale Online! www.PinedaleOnline.com. Wolf howl header photo by Cat Urbigkit.