Wolves of the U.S.
Wild Gray Wolf Populations in the United States
Gray Wolves (Canis lupus ) were once the most widely distributed wild mammals. They inhabited most of the available land in the northern hemisphere. Due to the destruction of their habitat and persecution by humans, they now occupy only about two-thirds of their former range worldwide, and only about 3 percent of the continental 48 United States.
WESTERN GREAT LAKE STATES
Total Gray Wolf Population: 3,686
Broken down as follows:
Minnesota: 2,211 /2012-2013
Wisconsin: 809 /late winter 2012-2013
Michigan: 658 / late winter 2012-2013
Isle Royale National Park: 8 / March 2013
Status: Delisted/State Managed. Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections were lifted from the populations in January of 2012. Within the past three years (2011-2013), 530 wolves were killed by hunting and trapping since regional delistings have been enforced.
Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources states that in 2012, wolves of the Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment were removed as a listed species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The number 2,211 is derived from mid-winter post hunt population.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources stated that all known mortalities for 2012 fell within expected ranges, including 117 from hunting and trapping, 76 from depredation control, 24 from vehicle collisions, 21 from illegal kills and 5 from unknown causes.
Michigan: From Michigan DNR News Release (7/11/2013). Natural Resources Commission authorizes limited public wolf harvest aimed at managing the state’s wolf population.
Isle Royal National Park: According to the Ecological Studies of Wolves on Isle Royale (Annual Report 2012-2013), since 2009, the population has declined by 66%, from 24 to 8 wolves.
Northern Rocky Mountain States & Pacific Northwest:
Total Gray Wolf Population: 1,674 (as of Dec. 2012)
Broken down as follows:
Idaho: 683 (as of Dec. 2012)
Wyoming: 277 (as of Dec. 2012)
Montana: 625 (as of Dec. 2012)
Washington: 43 (as of Dec. 2012)
8 / Outside of Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct
Population Segment as of December 2012
Oregon: 46 (as of Dec. 2012)
Status: Within the past three years (2011-2013), 1,180 wolves were killed by hunting and trapping since regional delistings have been enforced. Montana Fish and Wildlife has made several changes to keep those numbers down and stable. Some of these changes include extending the rifle harvest and hunters will be able to bag five wolves instead of three in the 2013 season.
Northeast: none (officially)
Since 1993, several gray wolves have been documented south of the St. Lawrence River, however definitive evidence of established packs in the Northeast has not been documented.
Status: Federal protection. If natural restoration occurs in the Northeast, this wolf population will be listed as endangered. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there are over 26 million acres of suitable wolf habitat in the Northeast. Wolf recovery in the Northeast would restore vital ecological balance to the Northern Forest Ecosystem. According to the USFWS, “Wolf presence plays a meaningful role in the delicate balance between prey, other predators, and even vegetation. This is a role that scientists are just beginning to understand”. To learn more about wolf recovery efforts in the Northeast visit Coalition to Restore the Eastern Wolf at http://easternwolf.org
Southwest: (EXPERIMENTAL POPULATION) 75 Mexican Gray wolves
Arizona and New Mexico: 75 wolves (from Dec 2012)
Status: Federal Protection with Exceptions.
Total Gray Wolf Population: 7,700 to 11,200
Status: Not protected by ESA
Aerial Hunting : Aerial Hunting is against the law. In 1972 Congress passed the Airborne Hunting Act (AHA) to prohibit hunting or harassing animals from aircraft. Although illegal, the practice of aerial hunting has been resurrected by the Alaska Legislature under the guise of wildlife management and predator control.Alaska skirts the intent of Congress by exploiting a loophole in the AHA to use aerial hunting to artificially boost game species populations for hunters. Under Alaska’s aerial hunting program over 1000 wolves have been killed in the past several years. If passed, the Protect America's Wildlife Act (PAW) will close the loophole in the AHA and prevent other states who are proposing to follow Alaska’s example.
Red Wolf Populations in the United States
Southeast: Total Population: 90- 110 red wolves on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina (2013)
Status: Federal Protection. The red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of two species of wolves in the world, the other being the gray wolf(Canis lupus). The red wolf is one of the world’s most endangered wild canids. An estimated 100 red wolves roam the wilds of northeastern North Carolina and another 178 comprise the captive breeding program.