Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
photo: John & Karen Hollingsworth
courtesy of USFWS
July 2003, Wyoming Game & Fish Dept.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission/Department will implement the following management plan for gray wolves upon delisting by the Federal government.  The purpose of this plan is to establish guidelines for wolf management in Wyoming that will provide for a sustainable wolf population, while minimizing wolf/human conflicts.  This plan, although it varies in specific circumstances, is compatible with management plans in Idaho and Montana.  Population objectives are similar for all 3 states and, as such, should guarantee that the federal recovery criteria established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are met and maintained after delisting.  The Department is the appropriate agency to assume management authority of wolves following delisting.  The Commission is the appropriate authority to determine the classification of gray wolves.  Both willingly recognize and will assume that responsibility.  Key elements of this management plan include the following:

According to Wyoming Statute 23-1-304 and interpretation of said statute by the Wyoming Attorney Generals Office, Wyoming will commit 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, 7 packs will be maintained outside the National Parks and Parkway.  Since the State of Wyoming has no control over the management of wildlife in the National Parks, the State can only commit to the 7 pack objective outside the National Parks and Parkway.

Wolves will be managed 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 (Absaroka-Beartooth, North Absaroka, Washakie, Teton, Jedediah Smith, Winegar Hole, and Gros Ventre).  They will be classified as predatory animals in the remainder of the state.  The Department will be responsible for monitoring wolves statewide regardless of classification.

If the number of wolf packs outside the National Parks and Parkway falls to 7 or below, trophy game classification will be expanded beyond the contiguous wilderness areas to include a larger area known as the Northwest Wyoming Wolf Data Analysis Unit (DAU) (expanded trophy game status area) that will consist of 3 Wolf Management Units (WMU) (Figure 3).  This classification will be reviewed as warranted every 90 days.  A change back to predatory animal status will occur in all or part of the DAU only if the Commission determines circumstances have changed sufficiently that 7 packs can be maintained outside the National Parks and Parkway with a smaller DAU.  In essence the DAU will increase or decrease in size based on number of packs present and Commission determination of adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure wolf pack management objectives will be maintained.  Wolves outside the DAU will be classified as predatory animals.  The Department will collect necessary population status information on those wolves classified as predatory animals but will not manage nuisance conflicts outside the DAU.

Appropriate population data and management objectives will be assessed at the DAU level.  Wolf Management Units will be established that encompass known packs and they will be used to regulate public take on specific packs to assure that DAU objectives are maintained.  The Department also commits to implementing an appropriate monitoring program to assure that management objectives can be met.

Because management protocols hinge on the number of packs outside the National Park and Parkway, the Department must have the capability to collect important biological information from wolves that are taken by the public.  Simple location of kill information is not adequate.  Age, sex, and other information must be obtained if the Department is to accurately assess the impact of take upon management objectives.  As a result, all skulls and pelts of wolves that are taken by the public, regardless of their classification, must be presented to a Department employee within 10 days so that necessary data can be obtained.

Nuisance wolves will be managed using a variety of techniques designed to minimize conflicts between wolves and humans.  The Department will enter into a cooperative agreement with Wildlife Services (WS), which will assist the Department in managing conflicts between wolves and livestock.  The Department will only address conflicts and compensate for lost livestock in the area where wolves are classified as trophy game animals.  Property owners will be allowed to take wolves in the act of causing damage to private property.

Interactions between wolves and wildlife will be closely monitored, especially on State elk feedgrounds. As needed, management actions will be taken to minimize impacts while ensuring that 7 packs are maintained in Wyoming outside the National Parks and Parkway.

A progressive public Information and Education program will be developed and implemented by the Department.  This program will use a multifaceted approach to educate Wyoming's publics on all aspects of wolf management.

The Department will use a variety of potential sources to secure funds to implement the management program for wolves.  The potential cost of the management program will ultimately depend on the complexity of the monitoring program, the number and degree of wolf/human conflicts in areas where wolves are trophy game animals, and the area occupied by wolves long-term.

Wolves can cause negative economic impacts at the site-specific level (specific landowners or drainages for ungulates).  If the number of packs can be maintained near current levels, the potential economic impacts for all occupied areas should be manageable.  If not, management actions will be taken to minimize impacts while ensuring that 7 packs are maintained in Wyoming outside the National Parks and Parkway.


The gray wolf (Canis lupus) was extirpated from Wyoming by the 1930s.  From that time through the early 1990s, there were occasional wolf sightings in Wyoming, but no reproduction was documented.  With changing public attitudes through the 1960s, and implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, wolves were protected by the federal government.  Public attitudes toward wolves continued to change through the 1980s and 1990s, with the majority of United States citizens viewing wolves as a valuable natural resource and an integral part of natural ecosystems (McNaught 1987, Bath 1991).  As attitudes toward wolves changed, a national movement began that would bring wolves back to the western United States, including Wyoming.  Wyoming residents were split on their views towards wolves prior to reintroduction, with 49% in favor and 39% opposed to wolf restoration into Yellowstone National Park (Bath 1991).  

With the goal of reestablishing a sustainable gray wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains (Wyoming, Idaho and Montana), the USFWS reintroduced 31 wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and 35 wolves to central Idaho in 1995 and 1996 (Bangs et al. 1998).  These wolf populations have rapidly expanded in both numbers and distribution, setting forth plans for delisting, including the drafting of state management plans in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

The northern Rocky Mountain wolf population is comprised of three recovery areas: Northwest Montana, Central Idaho, and the Greater Yellowstone Area.  The Greater Yellowstone recovery area (GYA) includes all of Wyoming, including Yellowstone National Park (YNP), Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), the National Elk Refuge (NER), and adjacent parts of Idaho and Montana.

The USFWS has defined a recovered wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains as one containing at least 30 breeding pairs of wolves, with an equitable and uniform distribution throughout the three states for three consecutive years (USFWS 2002).  A breeding pair is defined as an adult male and female raising two or more pups-of-the-year until December 31 (USFWS 2002).  States must also have adequate regulatory mechanisms in place before wolves will be considered for removal from protection of the ESA by the USFWS.  This includes drafting state wolf management plans.  These requirements are intended to assure the gray wolf will not become threatened or endangered again.  The USFWS determined that 2002 was the third year in which at least 30 breeding pairs of wolves inhabited the northern Rocky Mountain recovery area.  If the wolf population remains at current levels or increases in number and distribution, and state management plans are in place, delisting may be proposed as soon as 2004.  The purpose of this plan is to establish guidelines for wolf management in Wyoming that will provide for a sustainable wolf population, while minimizing wolf/human conflicts, and ensuring the long-term health and viability of all big game herds once wolves are removed from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Upon delisting, management authority for wolves will return to the states in which wolves reside.  The Department is the agency charged with the management of wildlife species within Wyoming, and is the appropriate agency to manage wolves within the state.  Therefore, the Department will accept the responsibility and challenges of maintaining and managing Wyoming's portion of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population residing in those areas where wolves are classified as trophy game animal outside YNP, GTNP, the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway (Parkway), and the NER.  

Prior to 2003, the gray wolf was classified by Wyoming Statute (W.S.) 23-1-101(a)(viii) as a predatory animal.  This classification was changed in the 2003 legislative session to a dual status, following delisting by the USFWS, of "trophy game animal" or "predatory animal" depending on the area they occupy.  The State of Wyoming will commit to maintaining 15 packs of wolves in the State including the National Parks and Parkway with 7 of these packs occupying areas outside the National Parks and Parkway.  From the date gray wolves are delisted, they will be classified as trophy game animals in those tracts of land within the boundaries of Wyoming designated as YNP, GTNP, the Parkway, and contiguous wilderness areas (Absaroka-Beartooth, North Absaroka, Washakie, Teton, Jedediah Smith, Winegar Hole, and Gros Ventre) in accordance with W.S. 23-1-101(a)(xii)(B)(I) (Figure 1).  Outside of the abovementioned area, wolves will be classified as predatory animals.  The Department will collect certain management data in this area but will not manage nuisance conflicts.  Predatory animals are regulated under Title 11, Chapter 6 of the Wyoming Statutes, by the Department of Agriculture.  Additionally, under W.S. 23-1-304(b)(i), and interpretation of said statute by Wyoming's Attorney Generals Office, if it is determined by the Department that the number of packs is 7 or below in that portion of Wyoming outside of YNP, GTNP, and the Parkway, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission (Commission) shall adopt rules and regulations to classify the gray wolf as a trophy game animal within that area of the state the Commission determines necessary to reasonably ensure 7 packs of gray wolves are located in this State primarily outside YNP, GTNP, and the Parkway. Under W.S. 23-1-101(a), the Commission has the ability to establish regulations pertaining to wolf management in areas where wolves are classified as trophy game animals.  By providing the Commission authority to promulgate regulations to limit take of wolves within the described trophy game areas, Wyoming will satisfy the adequate regulatory mechanisms requirement necessary for delisting.  

One requirement for delisting is a minimum of 30 breeding pairs of wolves be maintained with an equitable and uniform distribution among the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.  As of December 2002, there were 22 documented wolf packs residing predominantly in Wyoming.  Fourteen of these packs (including 12 breeding pairs) were present in YNP.  As of December 2002, eight packs (including 6 breeding pairs) were present outside YNP and GTNP.  Packs outside YNP include the Teton, Gros Ventre, Washakie, Sunlight Basin, Absaroka, Beartooth, Greybull River, and Green River packs.  Current numbers of packs within the Yellowstone population clearly indicate that this population has exceeded the criteria for delisting.  It is clearly in the State's best interest for wolves to be delisted in a timely manner.  The Department is the appropriate agency to assume management responsibility for wolves outside the National Parks and Parkway once delisting has occurred, and it is a role the Department wishes to assume.

Wolves are of national interest, and the national public, not just the license-buying public of Wyoming, should share in the funding of wolf management.  Supplemental funding will be sought through special federal or State appropriations, public/private foundations, and other sources.
The success of any management program depends, at some level, upon successful coordination with other agencies and the public.  A wolf management program for the State of Wyoming should be sufficiently similar to management programs for the states of Idaho and Montana, to facilitate adequate management of the entire Greater Yellowstone wolf population.  Although the dual status classification and the management actions it entails are unique to Wyoming, this plan will allow Wyoming, in conjunction with Idaho and Montana to effectively manage a recovered Greater Yellowstone wolf population.  Idaho has finalized its wolf management plan and is in the process of creating a refined population management document.  Montana has just completed public scoping on their final draft plan, which should be finalized by September 2003.  Appendix 1 illustrates the similarities and differences among the three state management plans.


Physical Characteristics:  The wolf is the largest member of the dog family Canidae.  Pelt color can be highly variable ranging from white to black, with grizzled gray or black being most common in the northern Rocky Mountains.  Weight typically ranges from 80 - 90 pounds (36 - 41 kg) for females and 90 - 110 pounds (41 - 50 kg) for males. Height averages 26 - 32 inches (65 - 80 cm) at the shoulder, and length typically measures 4.5 - 6.5 feet (1.4 - 2.0 m) from nose to tail tip.  Approximate track size is 4 inches wide by 5 inches long (9.5 x 12.1 cm), and can be difficult to differentiate from tracks of large domestic dogs.

Reproduction and Social Behavior:  Wolves form family groups referred to as packs.  A pack consists of at least two individuals of the opposite sex that breed and produce pups.  Wolves are sexually mature at 22 months of age (Mech 1970).  The dominant male and female in the pack (alpha pair) produce most of the young, however, 20 - 40% of packs containing two or more adult females produce two litters/year (Mech 1991).  Breeding occurs during February or March, and pups are born after a 63-day gestation period in April or May.  Litter sizes in Wyoming have averaged approximately five pups from 1997-2001 (USFWS 2002).  Pups remain at a den site for about 6 weeks until they are weaned.  The pack then moves to rendezvous sites (home sites) until the pups are old enough to hunt with the pack (e.g., September, October).  Once pups begin hunting, these rendezvous sites are no longer used and packs range throughout their territory.

Yearlings tend to leave the pack during fall to find a mate and develop a new territory and pack (Fritts and Mech 1981); however, some individuals stay with the pack longer.  Pack territories are defended against other wolves.  Territory location is advertised to other wolves through scent marking and howling.  Territory size appears related to prey density (Ballard et al. 1987, Fuller 1989). Territory sizes of wolves recolonizing northwest Montana average 300-400 mi2 (777-1036 km2).  Territories of wolves in the GYA are averaging 200 mi2 (535 km2).  Pack sizes typically range from 2-16 wolves, but it appears pack size may be related to size of prey species.  For example, wolf packs in Minnesota that preyed primarily on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) averaged 6.7 wolves (Fuller 1989), whereas wolf packs in Alaska averaged 11.2 wolves where moose (Alces alces) were the primary prey species (Peterson et al. 1984).  The average size of the eight packs in Wyoming outside of YNP in 2001 was 8.7 wolves (range 2-12) and 13.3 wolves (range 2-37) inside YNP (USFWS 2002).

Population Growth:  Wolves have a high reproductive potential and populations can sustain moderate levels of mortality.  Keith (1983) reported an average annual population increase of 29% from seven wolf populations in the United States and Canada.  Three populations were exploited through a concentrated effort to reduce these populations using a variety of methods of take, while four were unexploited, but yielded similar rates of increase.  Unexploited wolf populations may increase 28-35% annually.  Wolves recolonizing northwest Montana increased an average of 22%/yr since 1986 (Fritts et al. 1994).  Since 1998, the wolf population in the GYA has increased an average of 22%/yr (Figure 2).  In unexploited populations, wolf density is ultimately limited by prey abundance (Fuller 1989).

Mortality Factors:  In areas where human caused mortality is low, disease, starvation, and killing by other wolves are the primary causes of wolf mortality.  Mortality rates in unexploited wolf populations average 45% for yearlings and 10% for adults.  Human exploitation, however, tends to be the highest form of mortality in most wolf populations.  In northwest Montana and adjacent Canada, 77% of documented wolf mortalities were human-caused (33 of 44; USFWS 1993).  Since 1995, 53% of documented wolf mortalities in the GYA have been human-caused (Smith and Guernsey 2002).  Of the documented 95 total wolf mortalities in the GYA since 1995, 27 were natural mortalities, 12 were from vehicle collisions, 27 were from control actions for livestock depredations, 7 were illegally taken, 3 were other human-caused and 19 were unknown.  Annual mortality rates of 30-40% may suppress wolf population growth (Keith 1983, Ballard et al. 1987, Fuller 1989).

Feeding Habits:  Wolves are highly efficient predators that feed primarily on large ungulates, although beaver (Castor canadensis) and other small mammals may also be utilized at certain times of the year.  Prey preference appears related to prey size and availability.  Order of preference by wolves tends to be deer (O. spp.), elk (Cervus elaphus), and bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) where they coexist, and wolves tend to select elk over moose, and bison (Bison bison) (Singer 1991).  Based on preference and prey availability in the GYA, wolves reintroduced into YNP were expected to select elk most often followed by mule deer (O. hemionus) and bison (Singer 1991).  Recent studies of wolf-prey relationships in and adjacent to YNP have documented >85% of wolf kills to be elk, followed by bison, moose, deer, and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) (Smith et al. 2002, USFWS 2002, Jaffe 2001, Mech et al. 2001).

Wolves are largely opportunistic, generally taking young-of-the-year and old animals (Peterson et al. 1984, Fuller 1989, Boyd et al. 1994).  However, wolves are also known to feed on prime age animals when prey becomes scarce (Potvin et al. 1988).  Wolf consumption rates can vary from 6-14 pounds/wolf/day (2.7-6.4 kg/wolf/day; Boyce and Gaillard 1992).  Singer (1991) speculated that each wolf on the northern range of the GYA would consume an average of 9.9 elk, 2.4 mule deer, 0.2 each of bison, moose, and pronghorns, and 0.03 bighorn sheep annually based on preference of prey and availability.  At the 2001 population level, wolves in Wyoming would consume an estimated 2048 elk, 523 mule deer, and 44 each of bison, moose and pronghorn antelope.  Smith et al. (In review) documented a kill rate of 1.9 kills/wolf/month during winter months (November - March) in YNP (1995 - 2000), kills were 90% elk.  Anticipated impacts of wolf predation on ungulate populations in the GYA indicate population reductions of 5-20% for elk, 3-19% for deer, up to 15% for bison, and up to 7% for moose may occur once the wolf population is at the recovery level.  Impacts on other ungulate populations are expected to be minimal (Boyce and Gaillard 1992).  By the end of 2001, there were 218 wolves in the GYA recovery area.  There has been a decline in cow/calf elk ratios in herd units adjacent to YNP in Wyoming, but it is unknown at this time to what extent wolf predation has contributed to the lower calf numbers.  Undoubtedly, wolf predation is responsible for a portion of this decline, but other factors such as the extended drought and other environmental factors may also be influencing these ratios.  Cow/calf ratios are also depressed in areas of Wyoming without wolves, such as the South Bighorns, Rattlesnake, Iron Mountain, and Sierra Madre herd units.  More research on wolf/wildlife interaction is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn about the effects of wolves on their prey.  Ungulate monitoring efforts will be enhanced in those areas with established wolf packs until the effects of wolf predation are better understood.   

Livestock Depredation:  In the western United States, wolves gained a notorious reputation as livestock killers by the early 1900s, as livestock replaced native ungulates on western rangelands.  The impact of wolf predation on livestock during this time contributed to the extermination of the gray wolf from the western United States (Young and Goldman 1944).  From 1897-1907 bounties were paid on 20,819 wolves in Wyoming alone [Seton 1929:261; coyotes (Canis latrans) were likely mistaken for wolves in some cases].  Wolf depredation on livestock undoubtedly intensified due to the depletion of natural prey and expanding livestock presence.
While livestock losses to wolves are minimal industry-wide, losses to individual operators can be significant (Fritts et al. 1992, Mack et al. 1992).  Wolf depredation rates on cattle were 0.12, 0.37, and 0.87/1000 available in Minnesota, British Columbia, and Alberta, respectively (Mack et al. 1992).  Wolves accounted for 31% of the documented domestic calf mortalities on an allotment in Idaho during 1999 and 2000 (Oakleaf et al. 2003). Depredation rates on sheep were 2.37 and 0.54/1000 available in Minnesota and British Columbia, and annual losses to wolves averaged 33 sheep/year in Alberta (number of sheep available to wolves in Alberta was not documented; Mack et al. 1992).    A recovered wolf population in the GYA was expected to account for an average of 19 cattle (range: 1-32) and 68 sheep (range: 17-110) depredations annually (USFWS 1994).  In 2002, 33 cattle, 71 sheep, and 1 dog were confirmed killed by wolves in the GYA; confirmed losses in Wyoming consisted of 23 cattle (Table 1).  Control actions included lethally removing six wolves in 2002.  Control of offending wolves, improved livestock management practices (e.g., carcass management, fencing, etc.), compensation for losses, and communication with the public have been suggested as means to enhance wolf recovery where wolf-livestock conflicts exist (Fritts et al. 1992, Mack et al. 1992, Niemeyer et al. 1994).



The ESA provided protection for wolves in Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota, Arizona, and New Mexico beginning in 1974.  A wolf recovery team for the northern Rocky Mountains, consisting of individuals from federal and state agencies and conservation groups, was also appointed in 1974.  The recovery team was assigned development of the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan.  A draft of this plan was completed in 1980 (USFWS 1980) and subsequently reviewed by government agencies, livestock and environmental groups, and wolf experts.  Following review and revision, the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan was approved in 1987 (USFWS 1987).  The Recovery Plan called for natural migration of wolves into central Idaho and northwest Montana from existing packs in Canada, but authorized reintroduction of wolves into the GYA due to geographical isolation and the low probability of natural establishment.  

During this process, recovery areas in northwest Montana, central Idaho, and the GYA were identified (Appendix I; USFWS 1987:23).  The following criteria were used to select the three recovery areas:  presence of an adequate year-round prey base; at least 3000 mi2 (7770 km2) of contiguous wilderness, national parks, and adjacent public lands; a maximum of 10% private land; the absence, if possible, of livestock grazing; and isolation from populated and heavily used recreation areas allowing protection of 10 breeding pairs of wolves from human disturbance (USFWS 1987).

Wolves were re-introduced into YNP and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996 as nonessential, experimental populations under Section 10j of the ESA.  Section 10j provides much more management flexibility than the strict "threatened" or "endangered" classification.  In populations designated as nonessential experimental, only those wolves within national parks or preserves receive the fully protected, endangered status (ESA, Sect. 7).   Wolves in northwest Montana are present due to natural emigration from the Canadian population to the north, thus are classified as threatened.  This classification was recently changed from endangered in April 2003.

Prior to 2003, the gray wolf was classified by Wyoming Statute (W.S.) 23-1-101(a)(viii) as a predatory animal.  This classification was changed in the 2003 legislative session to a dual status of "trophy game animal" or "predatory animal" depending on the location of a pack or individuals.  From the date gray wolves are delisted, they will be classified as trophy game animals on those tracts of land within the boundaries of Wyoming designated as YNP, GTNP, the Parkway, and contiguous wilderness areas (Absaroka-Beartooth, North Absaroka, Washakie, Teton, Jedediah Smith, Winegar Hole, and Gros Ventre), in accordance with W.S. 23-1-101(a)(xii)(B)(I) (Figure 1).  According to Wyoming Statute 23-1-304 and interpretation of said statute by the Wyoming Attorney Generals Office, wolves located outside these areas will be classified as predatory animals as long as there are more than 7 packs outside the Parks and Parkway.  


Population Objectives:  According to Wyoming Statute 23-1-304 and interpretation of said statute by the Wyoming Attorney Generals Office, upon delisting, Wyoming will maintain a minimum of 15 packs within the State including YNP, GTNP, the Parkway, the NER, and potentially the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Seven of the 15 packs will be maintained outside YNP, GTNP, and the Parkway.  Since the Commission does not have the legal authority to actively manage wolves within the National Parks, its management emphasis will be applied to maintaining 7 packs that inhabit primarily areas outside the Parks.  Additionally, the Commission does not have any authority to manage wildlife within the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR), except on fee title (private) lands.  As such, this plan will have no bearing on potential pack establishment within the Reservation.  However, the Department will continue to coordinate with appropriate authorities on the WRIR to assure that wolf management objectives can be mutually agreeable to both the State and the Tribes.   

Under W.S. 23-1-101(a), the Commission has the ability to establish regulations pertaining to wolf management in areas where wolves are classified as trophy game animals.  Regulations will be drafted which will provide for regulated public take in these areas when the wolf population is sufficient to sustain harvest.  If the number of packs falls to 7 or below outside of YNP, GTNP, and the Parkway, the Commission shall adopt rules and regulations to classify the gray wolf as a trophy game animal within an area of the State the Commission determines necessary outside of the wilderness areas contiguous to the Parks and Parkway to ensure 7 packs of gray wolves are maintained in this State, primarily outside YNP, GTNP, and the Parkway (Figure 3).  

This new area will be the Northwest Wyoming Wolf Data Analysis Unit (DAU) and will consist of 3 Wolf Management Units (WMU).  Pack objectives (7) will be set at the DAU level, while the WMUs will be used to primarily regulate public take.  The Department uses this approach to manage all other species of big game and trophy game animals.  The DAU is used to manage a population of animals, while Hunt Areas or WMUs are used to manage specific harvest objectives for a population.  Formulation of both the DAU and Hunt Areas (WMUs) are done irrespective of land status.  The size and configuration of both the DAU and the WMUs may be altered to meet specific situations that may arise in the future.  Any wolves that occupy areas outside this DAU will be classified as predatory animals and will not be subject to management under any Commission regulations.  However, the Department will collect appropriate management data on wolves statewide.  The classification of wolves in this DAU will be reviewed every 90 days.  A change back to predatory animal status will occur in all or part of the DAU only if the Commission determines circumstances have changed sufficiently that 7 packs can be maintained outside the National Parks and Parkway with a smaller DAU.  In essence the DAU will increase or decrease in size based on number of packs present and Commission determination of adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure wolf pack management objectives will be maintained.  Wolf packs that occupy the new DAU will be actively managed and public take will be regulated under appropriate State statutes and Commission regulations to assure that 7 packs occupy this DAU.

The size of the DAU was selected based on several criteria.  It provides an area sufficient in size to ensure adequate regulatory mechanisms are in place to maintain 7 wolf packs outside the National Parks and the Parkway.  The DAU is large enough to encompass seasonal movements of the current wolf packs.  The amount of data that is available from radio-collared individuals is marginal for most packs and does not exist for some other packs.  As such, the area within this DAU should provide suitable habitat to account for any unknown movement patterns that might exist for some packs.  There are currently suitable numbers of associated prey species to support 7 packs of wolves in the DAU.  The Wyoming Range and the lower end of the Wind River Range were excluded from the DAU because of the potential for consistent conflicts due to existing numbers of domestic sheep that are grazed on both public and private lands in these areas.  Several individual and pairs of wolves have attempted to use the lower portion of the Wyoming Range in the last few years.  Almost all of them have been removed from the population due to livestock depredations.  The Wind River Indian Reservation was excluded because the Department does not have any statutory authority to manage wildlife on tribal lands.  However, efforts to work with WRIR tribal authorities to coordinate wolf management efforts will continue.   The size of the proposed DAU also allows for some flexibility in where the 7 packs will be maintained, in the event pack densities need to be reduced in one area to minimize wildlife or livestock conflicts in exchange for a replacement 7th pack in a less densely occupied area within the DAU.

Population Monitoring:  Initially when wolves are removed from federal protection under the ESA, it will be necessary for the Department to monitor the number of packs residing in Wyoming, regardless of legal classification, and document their distribution, reproduction, and mortality.  The Department will be responsible for monitoring these parameters in all occupied habitat outside YNP, GTNP, the Parkway, the NER, and the WRIR.  The National Park Service will monitor wolves inside YNP (D. Smith personal communication) and GTNP (S. Cain personal communication), and USFWS will monitor wolves on the NER (B. Smith personal communication).  The Department recognizes the efforts and commitment these agencies have made toward the wolf recovery program, and urges continued federal funding at or above current levels, so their wolf programs can continue after wolves are delisted.  If the Commission needs to implement the Wolf DAU (Figure 3) long-term, to ensure 7 packs are maintained as described above, the Department will prioritize data collection, to determine population status, to primarily the DAU.  Wolves outside that area will remain classified as predatory animals.  Consequently, the Department will use less intensive techniques for monitoring these wolves.  The Department will use a variety of techniques to document wolf abundance, distribution, and pack breeding success, and it will coordinate with other state and federal agencies to assure similar data is being collected so the population's status can be assessed.

The USFWS is proposing to modify the monitoring criteria regarding what constitutes a successfully reproducing pack of wolves.  The current criterion defines a breeding pair as a male and female successfully rearing at least two pups through December 31st.  One proposal being evaluated would change the definition of a pack to maintenance of a certain number of individuals.  Current estimates of the number of individual wolves in a pack that correlate to successful reproduction of the alpha pair ranges from 5 to possibly 8.  If a new definition of a pack were adopted, it could greatly reduce the effort needed to determine pack abundance.  The Service has not established these new criteria and probably will not establish them by the time this plan is completed.  The Department will use the State's statutory definition of a pack, which is "5 or more gray wolves traveling together".

Under the initial classification where wolves will be managed as trophy game animals only in wilderness areas contiguous to the National Parks, the Department will need to document the status of all packs outside the National Parks and Parkway to assure that 7 packs are maintained.  This will require a very labor-intensive program for at least the first five years following delisting.  Wolf populations in Wyoming will be monitored using whatever techniques are applicable with primary emphasis on extensive radio collaring, monitoring of those radio-collared individuals and intensive surveys during the winter and denning periods when wolves are most visible.  The monitoring program will emphasize existing protocols and techniques that the USFWS and YNP have employed, which has permitted adequate documentation of population status to assess whether recovery criteria have been met.  

Both aerial and ground surveys will be employed in the spring during denning when pups are more visible to aid in assessing successful reproduction for all packs.  If appropriate individuals are radio-collared, the ability to determine alpha male and female and pup survivorship through the remainder of the year will be greatly enhanced.  By monitoring pack numbers, distribution, breeding success, and mortality, population trends can be tracked over time, and appropriate management actions can be implemented to maintain 7 packs outside the National Parks and Parkway.

Upon delisting, wolves with active radio collars will continue to be monitored.  Radio collars may also be deployed in depredation situations.  Emphasis will be placed on deployment of radio collars in packs without any radioed animals.  Several techniques, from aerial tranquilizing to trapping, will be used to collar individuals.  Personnel from YNP have demonstrated that the use of helicopters during the winter when packs are more visible and accessible can increase the number of wolves that are collared over a shorter time frame, which greatly reduces the personnel time required when using traditional trapping techniques.  This situation may or may not be applicable in Wyoming depending on the location of specific packs during the winter months.  The Department will not be able to use this technique if packs are within wilderness areas because of federal restrictions for landing helicopters in these areas.    Trapping will also be used to ensure that the number and distribution of collars is sufficient to allow the Department to adequately monitor wolf packs.  Radio telemetry data will be very useful in documenting the number of packs present, reproduction, distribution, and movements following delisting.  

In addition to radio telemetry monitoring, emphasis will be placed on non-invasive techniques such as winter track counts, aerial surveys during denning periods, hair sampling, howling surveys, and observations by field personnel for basic survey and inventory data collection.  

During periods of snow cover, aerial and ground track counts may be used to document wolf presence or absence.  Track counts may also be used to estimate pack size, but they must be done repeatedly to provide accurate information, as wolves will step in each other's tracks while traveling in groups.  Currently, the Department conducts winter ground track surveys for lynx (Lynx canadensis) and pine marten (Martes americana) using snowmobiles.  Some of these routes may be utilized in areas known to have wolves.  Separate routes specifically intended for wolf surveys may be established within pack territories, as they become known.  New developments in aerial track surveys for population estimation may provide another non-invasive and cost-effective monitoring technique.  If this new technique is applicable, it will be used when appropriate.  

Hair samples from wolves can be obtained from setting up rubbing posts or hair capture corrals.  Hair can be analyzed and wolf presence can be documented.  Genetic profiling may be done from hair, blood, or tissue samples, in which maternity, paternity, dispersal, or overall genetic diversity can be analyzed.  A reservoir of genetic samples obtained from wolves in Montana, central Idaho, Wyoming, and an adjacent Canadian source population already exists.  Genetic samples will be added to this library as samples become available.

In the late spring and summer months, howling surveys at rendezvous sites can help biologists determine whether a pack is raising pups.  Pup vocalizations can easily be distinguished from that of an adult.  Although a precise count is usually not possible, wolf responses can indicate relative pack size.  Since packs react to artificial howls differently, howling surveys may not work in all cases.

Observation reports have been very useful to the federal recovery program.  Numerous observations of wolves or sign in an area have led to the discovery of new packs.  Observation reports may confirm pack persistence.  The Department will incorporate wolf sightings into its current Wildlife Observation System.  Information will also be solicited from the public, and used in any long-term monitoring program.  Additionally, the Department will establish public working groups consisting of volunteers from different interest groups across the occupied range of wolves to assist with appropriate data collection.

Each monitoring protocol has its own advantages and disadvantages.  While no single method will be suited to all packs, the Department will consider all methods, including new methods as they are developed.  Corroborating evidence will be gathered using multiple methods, but specific protocols will be tailored to the pack, setting, and appropriate season for collecting that type of data.  This will facilitate a balance between monitoring responsibilities, information needs, cost effectiveness, and scientific rigor.

Wolf Mortality:  Disease, starvation, and intraspecific strife are some of the primary causes of wolf mortality in unexploited populations.  Average annual mortality rates in unexploited populations are 45% for yearlings, and 10% for adults (USFWS 1994).  However, human-caused mortality is a major factor in most wolf populations.  Human-caused mortality includes legal and illegal harvest, agency control, and vehicle accidents.  Managing human-caused mortality will be an important component to Wyoming's wolf management.  Annual mortality rates of 30-40% may suppress wolf population growth (Keith 1983, Ballard et al. 1987, Fuller 1989).  All forms of wolf mortality will be considered when making management decisions.

Since the Department will be required to monitor the status of wolves statewide while they are under the initial dual status protocol, it will be imperative that the Department be promptly notified of all forms of public take, regardless of location and legal status of wolves.  There will be different time frames for public reporting of take but the Department must have specific biological information from wolves taken by the public to accurately assess population status and to assure that recovery criteria are met.

Legal Wolf Mortality:  Upon delisting, legal wolf mortality will result from such things as agency removals, public take (i.e., hunting and trapping), or in defense of life or private property.  The Department or its authorized agent may lethally remove wolves, when deemed necessary, to mitigate wolf conflicts with wildlife, livestock, or humans (see "Nuisance Wolf Management" section of this plan).  Taking wolves in areas where they are designated as predatory animal will also be legal.

After the wolf is reclassified under State statute following delisting, in areas where they are classified as trophy game animal, the Commission will actively manage the take of gray wolves by the public under existing State statutes and Commission regulations.  W.S. 23-3-115 will allow a landowner or their agent to legally take a wolf in the act of damaging private property.  Other species included in this statute are black bears, mountain lions, and bobcats.  Additionally, the Department may also issue special "kill permits" to property owners experiencing chronic wolf conflicts.  The taking of any wolf in the wilderness areas contiguous to the Parks and Parkway, damaging property, shall be reported to the Department within 10 days of the kill.  Outside contiguous wilderness areas where the Commission has classified wolves as trophy game animals, wolves taken damaging property shall be reported within 72 hours.  The taking of any wolf classified as either trophy game animal or predatory animal for any reason other than damaging property shall be reported within 10 days.  The person reporting shall present the unfrozen pelt and skull to a Department employee during business hours for examination.  Per Wyoming Statute 23-1-102(a)(vii) take is defined as hunt, pursue, catch, capture, shoot, fish, seine, trap, kill, or possess.  The terms harvest and hunt are considered synonymous, therefore included in the State statutory definition of take.

Unregulated Public Take:  In areas of Wyoming where the wolf is classified as a predatory animal, take will not be regulated.  However, persons who take a wolf in areas of the state where they are classified as predatory animals will be required to notify the Department within 10 days of taking a wolf.  They will be required to present an unfrozen pelt and skull to a Department employee so that biological information can be collected from the animal.  They will also be required to furnish the Department, to the extent possible, with the location of the take including, section, range and township, or UTM coordinates.

Regulated Public Take:  Regulated public take (i.e., hunting and trapping) will be used for wolf population management in areas where wolves are classified as trophy game animal.  Hunting and trapping regulations will be implemented through the same rule-making process used for other trophy game animals in Wyoming, including public input.  The Department may use a variety of harvest regimes to manage for 7 packs of wolves outside the National Parks and Parkway.  Harvest quotas may be established at the appropriate time.  Seasons will be closed when the mortality quota has been reached or if the Commission deems it necessary to limit take in additional areas that are designated for trophy game animal protection.  As with mountain lions and black bears, license sales will not be restricted (general license), unless limited quota harvest regimes are utilized.  Under a limited quota scenario the number of hunters would be limited to assure that harvest objectives are met.  Wolf mortality quotas will be based on desired pack densities for each WMU and total numbers of packs at the DAU level.  

All management recommendations for wolves will be formulated with input from the public.  At the appropriate time, Department personnel will propose management options that will be reviewed internally within the Wildlife Division.  Once the recommendations have been approved at this level, they will be taken to the public, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, for comment.  Public comments will be summarized and presented to the Commission, along with the Department's recommendations for final approval.

Management objectives will be based on population status at the time wolves are delisted.   It is not prudent to formulate management recommendations, such as legal harvest objectives, at this time using current information.  Delisting is expected to take at least one year from the time state wolf management plans are approved by USFWS.  The Department will begin formulating final management recommendations during this time frame.  

Currently it is unlawful to take trophy game animals by trapping in Wyoming.  Upon delisting, trapping of gray wolves classified as trophy game animals will become legal as set forth by W.S. 23-2-303(d).  The Department will enact regulations setting forth the specifications for traps and snares used for the taking of gray wolves.  

Where wolves are classified as trophy game animals, mandatory reporting criteria will be implemented.  Within 10 days of taking a wolf, the licensee shall present the pelt and skull to a Department employee during business hours for examination and reporting.  The pelt and skull shall be presented in unfrozen condition in order to allow for collection of necessary biological information.  The licensee shall also furnish to the Department, at the time of reporting, the location, to the extent possible, of the site of harvest to include section, township and range, or UTM coordinates.

Illegal wolf mortality:  Wolves taken outside the framework established by State statute and Commission regulations in areas where they are classified as trophy game animal will be considered taken illegally and will be investigated by Department law enforcement personnel.  

Incidental Mortality:  Occasionally wolf mortalities may occur accidentally (i.e., capture myopathy, vehicle accidents, or from public trapping in the process of legally trapping for other species).  These types of mortalities are not expected to occur often and will likely have little affect on wolf populations.  The Department will formulate criteria to address which types of mortality will count against the quotas.  However, all incidental mortalities must be reported to the Department within 10 days.  Prompt notification by the public will aid the Department is collecting important information from these types of mortalities.
Research:  When funding is available, research conducted by the Department will focus on obtaining information that will help meet wolf management objectives, address wolf/ungulate concerns, improve survey techniques, and manage wolf-related conflicts.  Priority will be placed on improving techniques to assess population status.  Additional information obtained from future research should investigate wolf habitat use patterns, prey species composition and consumption rates, pack and territory sizes, age and rate of dispersal, population growth rate, and mortality factors.  Research on wolf/wildlife interactions will be focused in areas of the State where wildlife may be most impacted by wolf predation, such as elk feedgrounds and crucial wintering areas for ungulates.  The Department will promote these information needs primarily to non-Department wolf researchers.

Currently, the Department is a cooperating agency with the USFWS in an ongoing research project involving the elk feedgrounds in the Gros Ventre drainage of western Wyoming.  Goals of this research include documenting wolf depredation rates, consumption rates, and wolf/elk interactions including elk movements and displacement.  Information gained will be used to manage elk and wolves in this area.

Genetics/Connectivity:  Connectivity implies that wolves in each of the three states are functionally connected through emigration and immigration events, resulting in the exchange of genetic material between sub-populations.  This functional relationship is consistent with the biological intent of the recovery plan and is an underlying prerequisite for successful wolf recovery in the northern Rockies.   

Designation of habitat linkage zones or migration corridors is impractical for a habitat generalist and highly mobile species like the gray wolf.  Outside refuges such as national parks, legal protection across broad landscapes and public education will facilitate those functional connections across the region (Forbes and Boyd 1997). Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Parks function as refuges at opposite ends of the geographic extent of wolf distribution in the northern Rockies.  The network of public lands in western Montana, central Idaho and northwest Wyoming facilitates connectivity between the sub-populations.  The legal protections and public outreach described in this plan will help ensure the integrity of wolf movement between these two refuges.  No specific linkage corridors are proposed in Wyoming.
Sufficient dispersal and exchange of wolves between the three sub-populations will be necessary to maintain genetic variation in the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population.  In isolation, none of the three recovered sub-populations could maintain its genetic viability over the long-term (USFWS 1994).  Isolation is unlikely if populations remain at or above recovery levels and regulatory mechanisms prevent chronically low wolf numbers or minimal dispersal (Forbes and Boyd 1997).  

The Department recognizes that wolves move within and between islands of occupied habitats.  Dispersing wolves will travel through some habitats unsuitable for long-term occupancy due to of the potential for conflict.  Lone wolves in these areas may not be immediately removed through agency actions unless conflicts arise.  Wolves in these areas may however, be subject to liberal public take regulations.  Public education efforts will emphasize that lone wolf sightings do not necessarily mean a pack is forming in the area.  

The interagency effort to maintain linkage zones and movement corridors in the northern Rockies for grizzly bears, forest carnivores, and big game also will benefit wolves.  A major emphasis of this cooperative effort is to create areas of safe passage for wildlife across highways, railroad lines, and through areas of intense human development (R. Rothwell, personal communication).  

Connectivity between the central Idaho sub-population and the GYA sub-population has been documented.  In the spring of 2002, wolf B58, an adult male originally from the central Idaho population, was captured in the Greybull river drainage west of Meeteetse, Wyoming.  Wolf B58 traveled about 330 miles from Idaho to start what is now known as the Greybull River pack.  It is assumed the alpha female is a disperser from the Yellowstone population (M. Jimenez, personal communication).  At least two pups in this pack were observed in July 2002.


The reintroduction of wolves into the GYA focused on the large tracts of public lands in the region, especially YNP and the surrounding U.S. Forest Service wilderness areas.  This area was considered more suitable for reintroduction because of the large populations of natural prey species and the lower potential for wolf/human conflicts.  Wolf management in Wyoming will continue to focus on this area of the State once wolves are delisted.  

By State Statute, wolves will be classified upon delisting, as trophy game animals in YNP, GTNP, the Parkway, and contiguous wilderness areas (Absaroka-Beartooth, North Absaroka, Washakie, Teton, Jedediah Smith, Winegar Hole, and Gros Ventre) and predatory animals elsewhere in the State (Figure 1).  Based on analysis of 2002 wolf pack home ranges in Wyoming, 90% of the home range area of wolf packs outside the National Parks and Parkway in Wyoming are outside of these designated trophy game wilderness areas (Figure 4).  

If the number of wolf packs outside the National Parks and Parkway falls to 7 or below, trophy game classification will be expanded beyond the contiguous wilderness areas to include a larger area known as the Northwest Wyoming Wolf Data Analysis Unit (DAU) that will consist of 3 Wolf Management Units (WMU) (Figure 3).  This classification will be reviewed as warranted every 90 days.  A change back to predatory animal status will occur in all or part of the DAU only if the Commission determines circumstances have changed sufficiently that 7 packs can be maintained outside the National Parks and Parkway with a smaller DAU.  In essence the DAU will increase or decrease in size based on number of packs present and Commission determination of adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure wolf pack management objectives will be maintained.


The GYA was chosen for wolf reintroduction because of its high prey densities (i.e. ungulates) and the relatively low potential for human disturbance (USFWS 1994).  These two factors, in conjunction with the abundance of federal lands connecting central Idaho, western Montana, and northwestern Wyoming, should provide sufficient wolf habitat.  Therefore, the Department will not recommend any land use restrictions within Wyoming based solely on the presence of wolves.

Wolves are considered habitat generalists, which do not require a specific habitat type for survival.  Wolf habitat is based largely on the density of prey species found in a given habitat.  To maintain wolf habitat, the Department must continue to manage for viable, robust ungulate populations.  The Department manages ungulate populations by balancing natural population fluctuations and public hunting.  This adaptive management approach will assure adequate prey abundance to sustain a wolf population, as well as the hunting and trapping tradition enjoyed by many in Wyoming. Wolf/prey interactions are discussed further in the "Wolf/Wildlife Interactions" section of this document.

Wolves are not known to demonstrate behavioral aversion to roads.  In fact, they readily travel on roads, frequently leaving visible tracks and scat (Singleton 1995). In Minnesota and Wisconsin, wolves have been known to occupy den and rendezvous sites located near logging operations, road construction work, and military maneuvers with no adverse effects (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2001).  The underlying concern about road densities stems from the potential for increased accidental human-caused mortalities and illegal killings (Mech et al. 1988, Mech 1989, Boyd-Heger 1997, Pletscher et al. 1997).  Although some of the areas within the GYA are administered by the USFS for multiple use purposes and have high road densities, much of the GYA includes national parks or wilderness areas that have limited road access and minimal human activity.


Managing human/wolf conflicts will be an integral part of the wolf management program in Wyoming.  Emphasis will be placed on avoiding or minimizing wolf conflicts by incorporating wolf conflict avoidance into the information and education program.  When wolf conflicts occur, they will be dealt with in a prompt, appropriate manner.

Wolf-livestock Conflicts:  How wolf-livestock conflicts will be handled, and what kind of compensation program will be implemented after the wolf is delisted, are two issues of major concern.  Since wolves were reintroduced into YNP in 1995, USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services (WS), in cooperation with USFWS, has taken the lead in dealing with wolf-livestock conflicts.  WS personnel, with assistance from USFWS, have investigated reports of livestock depredations by wolves in Wyoming and have determined, based on the evidence available, whether wolves were responsible.  If it was determined wolves were responsible for the depredation, WS, in consultation with USFWS, decided what management action should be taken.  Management actions were taken based on all available data and evidence from the incident(s), on a case-by-case basis.

In portions of the State where wolves are classified as trophy game animals, the Department will be the lead agency in responding to wolf-livestock conflicts after delisting.  The Department will enter into a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with WS, in which WS will assist in wolf-livestock conflict investigations and implement management actions to resolve conflicts.  The Department and WS will decide on appropriate management action, based on the specific circumstances of each conflict.  Management actions could include a variety of responses and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.  Management actions are discussed in detail later in this section.  The Department recommends continued federal funding of WS in Wyoming for wolf conflict resolution.   

The Department will not manage nuisance activities in the portion of the State where wolves are classified as predatory animals.  Nor will the Department compensate livestock producers for livestock that are killed by wolves where wolves are designated as predatory animals.

Following delisting and when the gray wolf is classified as a trophy game animal, it will be included in the list of animals in W.S. 23-3-115, which allows property owners or their agents to legally take wolves damaging private property.

The Department and WS will work with livestock producers and non-governmental organizations to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts.  Technical assistance may include guidance on carcass disposal, fencing, scare devices, and other non-lethal or lethal control methods.

Compensation for Livestock Losses:  The Department recognizes the importance of financial compensation to livestock producers that sustain losses due to wolf depredation where wolves are classified as trophy game animals.  Defenders of Wildlife (Defenders), a non-profit wildlife conservation organization, currently administers a compensation program for wolf-killed livestock in the GYA.  Defenders reimburses livestock producers current market value for confirmed wolf depredations.  The Department recommends that Defenders continue its compensation program after delisting.  However, it is anticipated that, when the wolf is delisted, this program will not be continued and the Department will become responsible for compensation under State statutes in that portion of Wyoming where wolves are classified as trophy game animals.  The Department will not be liable for compensation of livestock lost to wolves in any portion of the State where wolves are classified as predatory animals.   

A scientific evaluation of state government and Defenders' predator compensation programs in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming for grizzly bears (in Idaho and Montana) and wolves has been initiated.  Objectives are to evaluate the effectiveness of various compensation programs, examine the role compensation programs play in predator conservation efforts within agricultural settings, and assess the impact that compensation programs have on public opinions and attitudes regarding predator conservation and management.  This effort is known as the Predator Compensation Research Study.  Preliminary results of the study can be found at http://www.forestry.umt.edu/personnel/faculty/mike/pcrp/.  A final report is anticipated in fall 2003.  Results of the study may provide the Department with information to aid in development of compensation programs.

The Department will pursue all possible funding sources for the livestock compensation program, including federal or State appropriations, public/private foundations, and other sources.  The Department will work diligently to try to ensure that revenue from license fees are not the only source of funding for a livestock compensation program.

Other Wolf-Human Conflicts:  Reviews of wolf-human interactions concluded that wild, healthy wolves in North America present little threat to human safety (Young and Goldman 1944, Mech 1970, 1990).  However, occasionally, wolves are aggressive toward humans.  McNay (2002) concluded the vast majority of wolf-human interactions in Alaska and Canada resulting in human injury were from wolves habituated to humans or conditioned to human foods.  The Department will incorporate the importance of preventing wolves from obtaining human foods and becoming habituated to humans into its information and education program.  Incidents involving aggressive behavior of wolves classified as trophy game animals toward humans will be investigated immediately, and appropriate management actions will be taken.

Management Actions:  Management actions will be implemented by the Department only in areas where wolves are designated as trophy game animals.  These actions will be based on the unique set of circumstances surrounding each wolf conflict.  Possible management actions include:

No Action:  No action may be taken after the initial investigation if the circumstances of the conflict do not warrant control, or the opportunity for control is minimal.

Aversive Conditioning or Deterrence:  Various methods may be used to deter or preclude wolf depredation of livestock, or other nuisance behavior (i.e., scare devices-visual and auditory, shock-collars, electric fences, non-lethal projectiles, etc.).  Actively deterring or aversive conditioning wolves may prevent nuisance behavior in some cases (Bangs and Schivik 2001).

Relocation:  Capture and relocation operations may be initiated when other options are not applicable.  

Removal:  Lethal control may be used when other options are not practical or feasible.  Removal is often the most effective management option for wolves that kill livestock.  

Property Owner Take Permit:  If livestock depredation is experienced, the Department could issue the property owner or property owner-representative a permit to lethally take one or more wolves in areas where wolves are classified as trophy game animals.  In addition, W.S. 23-3-115 allows property owners, their lessees, or their agents to legally take wolves classified as trophy game animals that are damaging property or attacking livestock

Predator/Prey Interactions:  Wildlife populations are affected by various factors such as weather, disease, habitat availability and condition, human impacts, and predation, to name a few.  These factors often combine to form complex interactions that make it very difficult to determine the actual cause of population fluctuations.  

Thus, the influence predators have on their prey may be variable not only between, but within regions as conditions change over time and space.  Predation may affect prey populations through juvenile mortality, adult mortality, or a combination of both (Gasaway et al. 1992, Ballard et al. 1997, Kunkel and Pletscher 1999, National Research Council 1997, Mackie et al. 1998, Ballard et al. 2001).  Wolves in Minnesota do not appear to impact white-tailed deer populations overall, but there are some localized effects of wolf predation in the poorest quality deer habitat (Mech and Nelson 2000, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2001).  Biologists in Wisconsin have reported that habitat and climate influenced deer populations more than wolf predation (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 1999).  Studies in YNP identified winter severity as a major influence on the level of wolf predation on elk, with wolf predation higher in more severe winters (Mech et al. 2001, Jaffe 2001).  Although wolf predation will have an effect on big game populations, even a significant impact in selected areas and on certain big game herds, wolf predation will likely have little overall impact on most prey species from a statewide perspective.

Sensitive Big Game Ranges: Localized impacts of wolves on prey may be greatest on crucial ungulate winter ranges and elk winter feedgrounds in western Wyoming.  The Whiskey Mountain bighorn sheep winter range near Dubois and crucial bighorn ranges on the Shoshone River and near Jackson are very important to the conservation of bighorn sheep populations in these areas.  A review of the literature on predation on bighorn sheep by Sawyer and Lindzey (2002) found the terrain bighorn sheep frequent prevents predators such as wolves from significantly impacting bighorn populations in most situations.  However, when bighorns seek forage away from escape terrain or in timbered areas where predators can approach undetected, wolves can inflict considerable mortality (Sawyer and Lindzey 2002).  Sheep populations on these important winter ranges are currently monitored for population fluctuations.  This monitoring will continue and will help ascertain possible wolf predation impacts.

Potential impacts to specific populations of moose are a concern.  There is crucial moose winter range in the Buffalo Valley/Spread Creek portion of the Jackson Herd Unit.  Population trend counts for the Jackson Herd Unit have been relatively stable 1991-2000, with a decline beginning in 2001 (Figure 5).  The ratio of calves per 100 cows in the population is used as an indicator of recruitment of young into the population.  These ratios and the population trend counts indicate a moose population that was fairly stable from 1991 to 2000 and trending slightly downward the last three years (Figure 5).  Research done by Berger (personal communication) on the Jackson moose herd points to several factors that likely contribute to this decline.  Pregnancy rates of adult cow moose in the area have been fluctuating between 70-80% since 1994.  These rates are in the bottom 10% of all moose populations in North America and significantly lower than pregnancy rates reported by Houston (1968) for the Jackson moose herd in the 1960s, which averaged over 95%.  Starvation has been the primary source of adult female moose mortality in this study from 1994-2001, accounting for 57% of all known mortality.  Wolf predation accounted for 3%.  Starvation was also a significant factor in reducing moose calf survival from an average of about 90% to nearly 10% in 2001 (Berger, personal communication).  These data indicate a population under the influence of larger environmental and/or density dependent factors.  However, wolf predation can be a major factor in moose calf survival.  In 1998, calf survival decreased to nearly 40% due mostly to wolf predation (Berger, personal communication).  The large amount of elk prey available in the Jackson area may cause wolf numbers to increase and remain high, possibly resulting in impacts to the moose numbers in the area.  Current research into the effects of predators on the Jackson moose population will continue, and combined with the current monitoring of the population by the Department, will help determine wolf predation effects.
Potential impacts from wolf predation could also occur in the Cody and Clark's Fork Moose Herd Units.  These two herds are currently below management objectives and appear to be in a downward trend with low recruitment.  Wolf predation on these herds has been documented but it is not known if this predation is the only reason for this downward trend.  These herds could also be experiencing some of the same environmental effects documented in the Jackson moose herd or impacts from grizzly bear predation.  This situation necessitates continued monitoring to ensure the long-term health and viability of this herd.

Wyoming has the largest elk-feeding program in the United States, feeding over 23,000 elk annually (Smith 2001).  The Department operates 22 elk feedgrounds in the Jackson, Pinedale, Big Piney, and Afton areas of western Wyoming.  The USFWS also operates the NER near Jackson.  These feedgrounds concentrate elk in lower elevation areas during the midwinter months with the intent of mitigating habitat loss, minimizing damage done by elk to private lands in the area, preventing vehicle/elk collisions, and preventing the spread of brucellosis from elk to cattle on winter feedlines.  

Wolves were first observed in the Jackson area in small numbers during the winter of 1997-98.  In the winter of 1998-99, two separate packs killed an estimated 60 elk on the NER (Table 2) (B. Smith, NER, personal communication).  Over the next few years, wolves killed fewer elk on the NER, but began killing more elk on and around the Department feedgrounds in the Gros Ventre drainage.  To date, the estimated number of elk killed by wolves each winter in the Gros Ventre area and NER represents less than 1% of the total Jackson elk herd.  The 2003 calf:cow ratios for both the Gros Ventre feedgrounds and the NER decreased for the second consecutive year (Table 2).  However, the number of wolf-killed elk confirmed on both the Gros Ventre feedgrounds and the NER decreased in 2003.  While there has been a significant wolf presence on the Gros Ventre feedgrounds in recent years (USFWS 2002), wolf presence on the NER has been minimal or nonexistent during that time (B. Smith, personal communication).  Thus, the decline in calf:cow ratios in both areas indicates that while wolf predation likely played a role in the decrease of the Gros Ventre feedground ratios, factors such as other predators and the prolonged regional drought were also influential.
In addition to predation, wolves can displace wintering elk from native winter ranges and feedgrounds onto adjacent private property, which may increase the potential for damage and elk/livestock commingling.  This has been documented on Bald Ridge and along the face of the Beartooth Mountains in the Cody region as well as Department feedgrounds.  Wolf presence was documented on 14 of the Department's 22 elk feedgrounds during the winter of 2001-02 and on 12 feedgrounds in the winter of 2002-03.  Wolf predation was documented on 12 feedgrounds in 2001-02 with 73 elk killed and/or fed on by wolves and on 9 feedgrounds in 2002-03 with 47 elk killed.  A study of collared elk on the Gros Ventre feedgrounds has found that elk displaced by wolves in that area often return within a day of being displaced (M. Jimenez, USFWS, personal communication).  However, there is still potential for conflicts on feedgrounds in several ways (Table 3).  These include elk causing damage to stored hay and elk feeding on livestock feedlines, which causes hay loss and increases risk of brucellosis transmission from elk to cattle.  Another potential conflict occurs where feedgrounds are near highway rights-of-way.  Elk presence near highways frequently forces the Department to initiate feeding in response to public concerns over vehicle/elk collisions.  Elk crowding can also have negative management consequences when elk move from one feedground to another.  Crowding aggravates the risk of brucellosis transmission among elk.  It is also more difficult to implement the vaccination program with crowding and elk reacting to ongoing wolf predation.  Hay supplies to feedgrounds are delivered during summer and fall, based on elk numbers from previous years.  When elk redistribute among feedgrounds, the Department must react to hay shortages.  This work is difficult in winter conditions because routes the Department must use are sometimes shared with recreationists, and because of equipment and manpower limitations.  Many of these problems existed prior to wolf presence on the feedgrounds, but wolf presence may exacerbate these problems.  Wolf management actions may be desirable if a given conflict could be prevented.  

Big Game Management:  Successful wolf conservation in Wyoming will depend, in part, on the availability of natural prey populations.  Ungulate populations are important to not only wolves and other carnivores, but to human hunters and others in the State whose income depends upon hunting and other wildlife-related activities.  Hunting licenses fund the majority of wildlife conservation efforts in Wyoming.  This investment has produced abundant ungulate populations throughout the State.  It is therefore important that the Department balance the wolves' need for prey with the public's investment in these ungulate populations and maintain their opportunity to hunt and otherwise enjoy them in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Data from studies conducted in YNP provide insight into the rate at which wolves kill prey in the GYA.  Jaffe (2001) estimated winterkill rates in the Madison/Firehole area of YNP.  Kill rates in this area of YNP ranged from 2.04 kills/wolf/30 days in the winter of 1998-99 to 1.47 kills/wolf/30 days in the winter of 1999-2000.  Similar rates were reported by Smith et al. (in review) for the northern range of YNP.  This study estimated wolf kill rates for two 30-day periods in early (mid November to mid December) and late (March) winter in the northern range of YNP from November 1997 to March 2000.  Kill rates were 1.6 kills/wolf/30 days in early winter and 2.2 kills/wolf/30 days in late winter, with an overall three-year average of 1.8 kills/wolf/30 days.  These numbers demonstrate that kill rates are variable not only between, but within winter seasons.  YNP kill rates are generally higher than most other wolf/ungulate systems, which is characteristic of a re-establishing and expanding wolf population (Jaffe 2001).  Because these studies were conducted during winter, they should not be used to estimate annual kill rates for GYA wolf populations.  Very little is known about summer kill rates of wolves in the GYA or any ecosystem.  

It is reasonable to assume that in the future, wolf predation may have a negative effect on some northwestern Wyoming elk, moose, mule deer, and bighorn sheep herds and, thus, hunter harvest.  However, since most of the packs that reside outside YNP and the NER are subject to take under the dual status classification, impacts to big game are expected to be tolerable.  The effect of wolves on elk numbers in the GYA is related to winter severity (Mech et al. 2001).  Mech and Nelson (2000) found that wolf predation impacted hunter harvest of white-tailed deer in areas of lower deer densities.  Many elk herds in northwestern Wyoming have been above herd objectives for several years.  Liberal issuance of antlerless hunting permits and extended seasons, combined with drought and predation, have reduced some of these herds to objective.  In the future, severe environmental conditions may reduce some elk populations in the GYA to the point where wolf predation may have a strong influence on them.  

Currently, Department biologists consider factors such as population objectives, drought, winter severity, juvenile to adult ratios, and natural and human causes of mortality in setting big game harvest quotas.  As a natural cause of mortality, wolf predation will be included in these decisions.  As with any other source of mortality such as severe winterkill, hunter harvest may be altered in response to wolf predation in order to ensure the health of the ungulate populations in question.  If wolf predation negatively affects the maintenance of management objectives for specific ungulate populations, the Department may recommend that the population objectives be modified to account for wolf predation.  In areas where wolves are classified as trophy game animals, management actions will be taken in the event that wolves begin to significantly affect ungulate populations in localized areas such as feedgrounds and crucial winter range.  

Management Actions:  In the final nonessential, experimental population rule for the GYA (Federal Register 1994:60260), USFWS encouraged states and tribes to define unacceptable wolf impacts to ungulate populations.  Upon approval of this State wolf management plan by the USFWS, the Department will have the option to translocate or lethally take wolves from areas where ungulates are negatively impacted.  It is not anticipated that wolves will cause excessive depredation on ungulates in most circumstances.  However, some wintering elk, deer, moose and bighorn sheep sub-populations on native winter range and elk on winter feedgrounds or near cattle feed lines could be susceptible to negative impacts from wolf predation and management action may be necessary under specific conditions.  

The Department does not propose to set any thresholds of loss or disturbance of wildlife species that, once met, will precipitate wolf management actions.  Each situation will be handled on a case-by-case basis through consultation between regional Department personnel and the Trophy Game Section.  Most management actions taken to reduce impacts will involve removing individual wolves at an early stage before it is necessary to remove multiple individuals or entire packs if problems continue.  In the event that non-pack individuals create unacceptable conflict, offending animals will be removed.  In all cases, legitimate rationale will be needed before actions will be taken.  All management actions will be documented, summarized, and made available to the public annually.  


As the Department prepares to assume management of wolves after delisting, it will be necessary to identify and address the broad array of questions concerning wolves and their impact on wildlife.  The Department is preparing now to answer questions that will emerge as Wyoming moves into wolf management.  Because wolf management procedures will be closely examined and arouse controversy, the Department seeks to build a balanced management approach that acknowledges the complexity of the political, social and environmental factors associated with wolves and their management.  This section will serve as the Department's guide as it prepares to inform its constituents about gray wolf management in Wyoming.

The objectives of the information and education section of this plan include:

1.     Increasing public awareness of the gray wolf, its recovery, and when delisted, the gray wolf will come under State management.
2.     Increase awareness of the status of the gray wolf in Wyoming, the delisting process and delisting milestones.
3.     Increase awareness of the array of management tools the Department will employ when the gray wolf is delisted.

Through the print and electronic media, the appropriate Branches of the Services Division will produce news releases, video productions and radio spots for statewide distribution.  These productions will be used to convey factual information regarding wolf management, policy, actions and issues of public concern, and answers to questions most likely to be asked about wolf management.  The wolf management plan will be posted on the Department's website for the public to review.

Informative articles will be published in the Department's Wyoming Wildlife News, Wyoming Wildlife Magazine, and Hunter Education Newsletter.  These articles will focus on wolf biology, identification, behavior, population status, and management as it relates to the audience of these publications.

Wolves will be integrated into the Department's ongoing education outreach.  Four "target audience" categories will be a high priority:
1.     Resident and non-resident hunters.
2.     Schools, teachers and youth organizations.
3.     The general populace of Wyoming with emphasis on residents of, and visitors to, the Greater Yellowstone Area.
4.     Livestock producers in affected counties with emphasis on the distribution of information on proven and appropriate techniques, which may reduce the number, and frequency of wolf/livestock conflicts.

The Department will include a discussion of wolves in its annual "Living in Bear and Mountain Lion Country" workshops.  The discussion will focus on co-existing with wolves, and will include wolf biology, the relationship between wolves and their prey, food habituation, and ways to reduce human-wolf conflicts.

Volunteer hunter education instructors will receive wolf presentations at annual instructor workshops.  Each presentation will include information on wolf biology, wolf identification, wolf management and conflict prevention.

1.     A pocket identification card, similar to that used in bear identification, will be developed and provided to instructors.
2.     A one-page handout will be developed for use in the hunter education "classroom".

In Project WILD workshops, teachers will be introduced to wolf education materials and wolf education materials will be acquired and used to the extent practicable and appropriate.

The recommendations in this section should be implemented immediately upon adoption of this management plan.


In accordance with the Commission's 1992 Wolf Position Statement, Department participation in wolf management is predicated upon securing a stable, long-term source of funding.  Consistent with that position, the Commission has taken action since that time to address funding.  In 1997, the Commission began communicating with Congress and the federal Administration to provide annual federal appropriations for Wildlife Services to help address wolf-related depredation issues in Wyoming.  The Commission also took steps internally to limit Department expenditures on wolf management.  A Commission motion in October 1997 clarified guidelines to Department personnel dealing with depredation and law enforcement matters involving wolves prior to federal delisting of the species.  With delisting close at hand, the issue of funding is of major importance to the State, as it prepares to assume management responsibility for a recovered wolf population.

Currently, WS receives an annual appropriation from Congress for predator control and utilizes portions of this appropriation for nuisance wolf management in Wyoming.  When the wolf is delisted, WS may not have sufficient funding to deal with wolf conflicts.  The Department will promote and support the continuation of this allocation, as it intends to enter into an MOU with WS for their continued assistance in managing nuisance wolves.  If this allocation can be maintained, in the short term it should cover the majority of costs associated with on-the-ground management of conflicts between wolves and livestock.  Adequate WS funding will result in significant fiscal savings for the Department.  

Section 6 funding is available only until a species is delisted.  The Department has coordinated, and will continue to coordinate, with Idaho, Montana, and other appropriate agencies, organizations and interest groups, and political leaders to secure stable funding for its wolf management program.  For the foreseeable future, the funding effort will focus on annual Congressional appropriations for the three states; based upon demonstrated need and ongoing success by the states in managing this shared wolf population.  This approach was initiated by Idaho in the FY 2003 federal budget, and will be expanded into requests for all three states in the FY 2005 federal budget cycle.  The three states are working closely together to ensure all funding needs are developed in a consistent manner through a single funding request to Congress.

The three states will also continue to advocate for the longer-term concept of Congress establishing and funding the proposed Northern Rocky Mountain Grizzly Bear and Gray Wolf Management Trust.  The Trust concept was developed by Wyoming several years ago and has since gained the support of Idaho and Montana.  The Trust concept has formally been endorsed by the Wyoming and Montana legislatures.

As envisioned, the Trust would originate from a one time Congressional appropriation and form the basis of an inviolate corpus, upon which the available annual interest would be sufficient to offset most of the three states' cost of managing grizzly bears and wolves.  Since both of these species are considered species of national significance, this would be an appropriate funding mechanism.  This approach would allow the American public to share in the cost of these management programs, rather than having it fall entirely to the states which rely almost exclusively on license fees and excise taxes on outdoor sporting equipment to support agency programs.  It would have the added benefit of providing dependable funding, upon which an adequate management program could be maintained over time.

The Department will also continue to seek expanded contributions from other potential federal sources for wolf management costs, such as legislative measures similar to Title III of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, and the State Wildlife Grant Program.  Out of necessity, if for no other reason than to provide the state's match for federal funds, the Department will need to annually allocate some money from the Game and Fish Fund toward wolf management efforts.  The Department will also examine other potential sources of funding at the state level, beyond license revenue, to assist financially with managing wolves once they are delisted.  These could include, but not be limited to, private donations, grants from foundations, assistance from non-governmental organizations and funding partnerships with other interested entities.

The estimates for Wyoming's wolf management program, as reflected in Table 4, presume that the Department will assume management authority in 2004, and that wolf abundance and distribution will be similar to existing conditions.  These estimates reflect only direct costs that will require additional funding, with the exception of the Wildlife Services grant which reflects current allocations from Congress.   Projected costs are only for that portion of the population that resides outside YNP, GTNP, the Parkway, and NER.  In addition to the estimated direct expenditures in Table 4, the Department also expects to assume additional overhead costs without increasing personnel.  Additional efforts will be required in law enforcement, information and education, fiscal, administrative, and legal programs within the Department.  This overhead is expected to be approximately $57,000.  It should also be noted that these estimates may decrease slightly after the first year or two of the program and will vary annually, especially for operations and equipment.


A recovered wolf population in Wyoming will bring both positive and negative economic impacts.  Positive impacts may be realized in the gateway communities to YNP from increased tourism.  Wyoming is well known for its abundant wildlife, scenic mountains, national parks and wildlife refuges.  Wildlife viewing is among the top activities for visitors and residents alike. Wolves add to the host of viewable wildlife in Wyoming.  Negative impacts include economic losses from livestock depredations, and possibly decreased hunter opportunity due to lower ungulate populations.  If hunter opportunity decreases, the Department, through decreased license sales, may see reduced income and local economies may be impacted.  The outfitting industry may also be negatively impacted if license sales decrease.  However, outfitters may also gain some clientele wanting to view or hunt wolves.  The economic impacts from wolves are difficult to predict, but may be tracked through time as a viable wolf population is established in the GYA, and wolf management in Wyoming evolves.

Because of the national interest in wolves, their presence in the GYA was expected to increase tourism in the area.  However; overall visitation to YNP has decreased for unknown reasons since wolf reintroduction.   Economic benefits generated by a recovering wolf population are difficult to gauge.  However, while there may be benefits to local communities from increased interest in viewing wolves, this does not generate income for wolf management by the Department.
Boyce and Gaillard (1992) estimated a recovered wolf population of 100 animals in the GYA could ultimately result in a 5-10% reduction in hunter harvest of elk in the Jackson Herd (165-330 elk) and a 1-2% reduction in elk harvest for the North Fork Shoshone Herd (6-13 elk).  The North Fork Shoshone Herd was combined with the Carter Mountain Herd in 1992 and now represents part of the Cody Herd. These reductions equate to annual revenue losses between $232,000-$465,000 from hunter harvest and between $207,000-$414,000 from additional hunter expenditures (USFWS 1994:4-22).  There are also wolves using the Clark's Fork Elk Herd Unit.  Based on the most recent information of pack numbers and future management direction in the GYA, a recovered wolf population will probably fluctuate around 250 animals in YNP and the adjacent Wyoming portion of the GYA, suggesting that Boyce and Gaillard's (1992) estimates of wolf impact on hunter harvest are conservative.  However, to date, there are no definitive data showing decreased hunter harvest or opportunity due to wolf predation on elk or moose in Wyoming.  As more is learned about wolves and their effects on game populations, economic impacts will be evaluated.  

At recovery, livestock losses to wolves in the GYA were estimated to range from 1-32 cattle and 17-110 sheep/year (USFWS 1994:4-16).  This depredation rate would result in an annual loss of approximately $1,900-30,500.  In 2001,with 218 wolves in the GYA, there were 117 sheep, 22 cattle, and 4 dogs confirmed killed by wolves, resulting in compensation payments from Defenders of $43,495 ($20,175 in Wyoming).  However, it is recognized that in addition to confirmed livestock losses, livestock may be missing as a result of wolf predation.  The cost of missing livestock may exceed the cost of confirmed losses based on the Departments' experiences with grizzly bear-livestock predation and research from Idaho (Oakleaf 2003).  As of November 1, 2002, livestock losses totaled 23 cattle in Wyoming's portion of the GYA.  The Department is determined to keep economic losses from a recovered wolf population to a minimum.

Table 1.  Confirmed wolf-caused livestock/dog depredations in Wyoming and the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) 1999 - 2002 (USFWS 2003)

Appendix 2.  Boundary descriptions for Wolf Management Units 1, 2, and 3.

Unit 1 - Beginning at HWY 120 and the WY/MT state line, southerly along HWY 120 to the junction of HWY 14 at the town of Cody, westerly along HWY 14 to the boundary of Yellowstone National Park, north along said boundary to the WY/MT state line, easterly along said line to its intersection with HWY 120.  

Unit 2 - Beginning at the junction of HWY 120 and HWY 14 in the town of Cody, southerly along HWY 120 to the junction of the Cottonwood Creek Road, southwesterly then southerly along said road to the Hamilton Dome Road (Wyoming Highway 170), southerly  along said road to the boundary of the Wind River Indian Reservation, westerly and then southwesterly along said boundary to its junction with HWY 26/287, northwesterly along HWY 26/287 to the boundary of Grand Teton National Park, northerly along said boundary to the east boundary of the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, north along said boundary to Yellowstone National Park boundary, easterly and then northerly along Yellowstone National Park boundary to the junction of HWY 14, easterly along HWY 14 to the junction with HWY 120 in the town of Cody.

Unit 3 - Beginning at the Bridget Teton Forest boundary at Boulder Creek, northwesterly along the forest boundary to the junction with HWY 26, southwesterly along HWY 26 to the town of Alpine, northwesterly along HWY 26 to the WY/ID state line, northerly along said line to the Yellowstone National Park boundary, easterly along said boundary to the east boundary of the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, southerly along said boundary to the boundary of Grand Teton National Park, easterly and southerly along Grand Teton National Park boundary to HWY 26/287, southeasterly along HWY 26/287 to the Wind River Indian Reservation boundary, southerly along said boundary to the continental divide, southeasterly along the continental divide to the Middle Fork of Boulder Creek, westerly down said creek to Boulder Creek, westerly down said creek to where it intersects with Bridger Teton Forest boundary.

The following are not included:
Figure 1.  Wilderness areas where wolves will be classified as a trophy game animal.
Figure 2.  Wolf population size in Wyoming and Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) 1995-2002.
Figure 3.  Northwest Wyoming Wolf Data Analysis Unit (DAU) and wolf management units (WMU).
Figure 4.  Wolf pack territories in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  Territories are a combination home range data from 2000 - 2002.  
Figure 5.  Annual Jackson moose herd trend counts and calf:cow ratios.
Table 2.  Elk calves per 100 cows and the number of wolf-killed elk found on feedgrounds in the Jackson area administered by the Department (Gros Ventre) and USFWS.
Table 3. Potential conflicts anticipated in managing elk at feedgrounds in Wyoming.
Table 4.  Projected Management Costs, which include WGFD and USDA Wildlife Services.
References: 52
Appendix 1.  Comparison of Final Management Plans for Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Maintain >15 packs. No limits on total numbers.
Maintain >15 packs. No limits on total numbers. Uses current definition of pack.
Maintain 15 packs statewide. 7 outside parks and parkway.
No boundaries
No boundaries
Limited to NW Wyoming
State Classification
Big game, furbearer, or special classification of predator.
<15-Species in need of management, >15-Big game or furbearer
Dual status of trophy game and predatory animal.  Area varies depending on the number of packs.
Livestock Depredation
MOU w/ Wildlife Services.
MOU w/ Wildlife Services
MOU w/ Wildlife Services.
Livestock Compensation
Continue Defenders Program or federal funds for compensation
Continue Defenders Program.  Continued use of private funding source
Cover under current state statutes for only trophy game animals.
Wolf Population Control
<15-depredation control only, emphasizing non-lethal methods.  >15-managed like bears & lions using hunting and trapping.
<15-non-lethal control emphasized.  >15-allow public take including hunting and trapping.
Regulated take through hunting and trapping restricted to areas where wolves are classified as trophy game animal.  Unlimited take in the rest of the state.
Wolf Population Monitoring
<15-more intensive monitoring including radio collars on every pack.  >15-less intensive.
Intensive monitoring for 5 year post-delisting including radio collars on each pack.  After 5 years and >15, less intensive
Intensive monitoring following delisting including radio collars and aerial surveys.
Prey Populations
Collect abundance and sex and age ratio data annually.  More intensive if excessive predation is documented.
Monitor big game populations as usual and enhance monitoring where wolves occur.
Continue to monitor big game populations and enhance if excessive predation occurs.
Information & Education
Establish strong public education program that emphasizes biology, management, and conservation and presents balanced view of social impacts and costs.
Provide comprehensive, scientifically based program on ecology, behavior, and management.  Create a more informed less emotional public.
Provide comprehensive, scientifically based program on ecology, behavior, and management.  
$837,325/year full implementation Depends on federal funding.
$765,296/year full implementation.  Depends on federal funding, Bear/wolf trust, & CARA.
$615,9000/year full implementation.  Depends on federal or other funding from several sources.