Local wolf population meets recovery criteria

WYOMING – Wyoming’s gray wolf population continues to meet all recovery criteria.

This was the finding of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Gray Wolf Monitoring and Management annual report. The newly published document details the gray wolf populations and conflict trends that indicate stable and predictable management of the species within Wyoming.

This is the 20th consecutive year wolf numbers in Wyoming have exceeded the delisting criteria and the fulfillment of the five-year post-delisting monitoring period required for species either recovered or delisted under the Endangered Species Act.

“Wyoming has a proven track record of successfully managing a fully recovered gray wolf and we will continue that approach into the future,” Game and Fish director Brian Nesvik said.

As of Dec. 31, 2021, at least 161 wolves and 14 breeding pairs reside within the wolf trophy game management area, where Game and Fish focuses management. The wolf population for Yellowstone National Park and Wind River Reservation is at least 97 and at least 17, respectively. An additional 39 wolves were documented in the seasonal monitoring plan and predatory animal areas outside Yellowstone and Wind River Reservation brought the total minimum population in Wyoming to at least 314 wolves.

Large carnivore section supervisor Dan Thompson said the management plan has promoted a recovered, stable and appropriate objective for Wyoming’s wolf population.

“This management approach has yielded reduced conflicts with livestock and alleviated potential impacts of wolf predation on big game herds. Our approach in Wyoming has promoted public tolerance and coexistence with wolves and humans across the landscape.”

Game and Fish lead wolf biologist, Ken Mills, said the department is continuing wolf monitoring efforts through the use of radio collars to ensure thorough data collection used to evaluate wolf population status and for proposing appropriate management actions.

Officials have credited wolf hunts in the northwest corner of Wyoming with contributing to a steady wolf population. Hunting seasons within management programs requires hunters to have a license and adhere to set mortality limits and other regulations. Mills said because of hunting seasons and strategies; the state has met its population objective for four consecutive years,

An ongoing status review on wolf populations has been implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in response to multiple petitions filed requesting wolves be relisted under the Endangered Species Act. The service is currently reviewing all state management programs and is expected to release its determination in September.