Minimum of 1,700 wolves in Northern Rockies
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
April 8, 2014
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in collaboration with other federal, state and tribal agencies, announced the 2013 Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Gray Wolf Population numbers.
As of December 31, 2013, there were at least 78 breeding pairs and 1,691 wolves within the NRM area. The wolf population remains well above the recovery levels identified by FWS and partner biologists in the recovery plan. Minimum management targets are at least 45 breeding pairs and at least 450 wolves across the NRM area. The minimum population estimate includes wolf packs in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. No wolf packs were documented in Utah.
The population estimate includes:
Montana recorded >627 wolves in >152 packs (including >28 breeding pairs);
Idaho recorded >659 wolves in >107 packs (including >20 breeding pairs);
Wyoming recorded >306 wolves in >43 packs (including >23 breeding pairs);
Washington recorded >38 wolves in >10 packs (including >3 breeding pairs), and
Oregon recorded >61 wolves in >8 packs (including >4 breeding pairs).
Wolf Depredations: Although confirmed depredations result in a comparatively small proportion of all livestock losses in the NRM DPS, wolf damage can be significant to some livestock producers in areas where wolves are present. Total confirmed depredations by wolves in 2013 included 143 cattle, 476 sheep, 6 dogs, 1 horse, 3 ponies, and 3 goats. From 2008 through 2012, an average of 199 cattle depredations occurred each year (ranged=193-214). An average of 397 sheep depredations occurred each year (ranged=162-749). Seventy-one of 369 (~19%) known NRM DPS wolf packs that existed at some point in 2013 were involved in at least 1 confirmed depredation. Of these packs, 51 packs were involved in >1 cattle depredation, 8 packs were involved in >1 sheep depredation, 1 pack was involved in >1 pony depredation, and an additional 11 packs were involved in depredations of >1 livestock species.
Control of Problem Wolves: For strictly comparative purposes, FWS estimated the absolute minimum number of wolves alive in 2013 by combining the 2013 NRM DPS minimum population estimate of 1,691 wolves with all known mortalities from all causes (n= 922). This sums to an absolute minimum NRM DPS estimate of 2,613 wolves known to be alive at some point in 2013 (Montana=962, Idaho=1,132, Wyoming=415, Washington=40, and Oregon=64). The absolute minimum estimate was only used to compare relative rates of the various causes of mortality to NRM wolves. In 2013, a total of 202 wolves (~8% of the absolute minimum NRM DPS estimated wolf population) were killed in control actions in the NRM including:
75 wolves in Montana (~8% of the absolute minimum MT estimated population),
94 wolves in Idaho (~8% of the absolute minimum ID estimated population), and
33 wolves in Wyoming (~8% of the absolute minimum WY estimated population).
No wolves were removed in control actions in Washington or Oregon.
Public Harvest of Wolves: Legal harvest removed 650 wolves (~25% of the
absolute minimum NRM DPS estimated wolf population).
231were legally harvested in Montana (~24% of the absolute minimum Montana estimated
356 wolves in Idaho (~31% of the absolute minimum Idaho estimated population);
62 wolves in Wyoming (~15% of the absolute minimum Wyoming estimated population), and
1 wolf in Washington (~3% of the absolute minimum Washington estimated population).
No wolves were harvested in Oregon.
Wolf Population Recovery: By every biological measure the NRM DPS wolf population is fully recovered and remains secure under State management.
Resident packs have saturated suitable habitat in the core recovery areas and the population has exceeded recovery goals for 12 consecutive years.
Dispersing wolves routinely travel between NRM and Canada and successfully breed, demonstrating that the 3 subpopulations function as a single large NRM meta-population.
Wolf Funding: In 2013, $2,552,128 of federal funding was spent by state, federal, and Tribal agencies on wolf monitoring, management, control, and research. State and private compensation programs spent $273,548.00 to compensate livestock producers for dead, injured, or missing livestock.
The annual report is conducted as part of FWS's work to monitor the wolf population to ensure that it continues to exceed recovery goals under professional state management, and no longer requires federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Click on the links below to review the entire report.