The 2011 Interagency Annual Report for the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Population, compiled by federal, state and tribal agencies, estimates that the population increased to 1,774 wolves and 109 breeding pairs.
The NRM area includes all of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon and a small portion of north central Utah.
“These population estimates indicate the credible and professional job Montana and Idaho have done in the first year after they have assumed full management responsibilities, as well as successful cooperative efforts to manage wolves in the remaining portions of the range,” said Steve Guertin, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. “We believe the management plans developed and implemented by the states will maintain a healthy wolf population at or above our recovery goals.”
The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population is biologically recovered, having exceeded recovery goals for 10 consecutive years.
In addition, the population fully occupies nearly all suitable habitat. Wolf packs, especially breeding pairs, typically remain within the three core recovery areas in northwestern Montana/Idaho Panhandle, central Idaho, and the Greater Yellowstone Area, but breeding pairs were again confirmed in eastern Washington and Oregon.
Private and state agencies paid $309,553 in compensation for wolf-damage to livestock in 2011. Confirmed cattle depredations were essentially the same in 2011 with 193 cattle losses compared to 199 cattle killed by wolves in 2010. Confirmed sheep depredations declined from 245 sheep killed in 2010 to 162 sheep killed by wolves.
In 2011, 166 “problem” wolves were lethally removed by agency control, which includes legal take in defense of property by private citizens.
During the year, Montana removed 64 wolves by agency control and harvested 121 wolves in their hunting season; Idaho removed 63 wolves by agency control and harvested 200 wolves by public hunting; and in Wyoming, 36 wolves were removed by agency control. In Oregon, two wolves were removed by agency control, but no wolves were removed in Washington, or Utah.
“Hunters have played a key role for decades in helping to manage and sustain dozens of game populations in North America, and they can do the same for wolves. Combined with efforts to remove wolves found to be predating on livestock, they can help reduce conflicts with humans,” said Guertin. “The reduction of these conflicts is another crucial element in our ability to sustain the wolf’s recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountains.”
The Service delisted Northern Rocky Mountain wolves (except Wyoming) on May 5, 2011. In October 2011, following approval of a revised wolf management plan by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, the Service proposed to remove the gray wolf population in Wyoming from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. A final determination regarding this proposal is expected to be made by fall of 2012.
The report is posted online at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov and is composed of seven sections: 1) Montana; 2) Wyoming; 3) Idaho; 4) Oregon, 5) Washington, 6) Service overview of dispersal; wolves outside of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming; funding; litigation; and recent publications; and 7) tables and figures of wolf population, wolf pack distribution, and wolf depredations and wolf control.