For Immediate Release – October 16, 2014 


Minneapolis – The International Wolf Center posted this week the findings and status of the gray wolf population in the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan) as reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The report summarizes many factors and count estimates to conclude that the numbers of wolves exceed the levels for “significant concern” in the three states. Wolves were one of the first animals placed on the Federal Endangered Species List in 1967, and when the wolf population was deemed recovered, they were removed from the list in 2012. The latest report shows the combined estimated three-state population grew from 3,678 in 2012-13 to 3,719 in 2013-14. Compiled by Phil Delphey, USFWS biologist, the report is found online.

“This is excellent news for continued wolf recovery in the Upper Midwest and reassurance that state wolf-management policies are working well,” stated L. David Mech, founder and vice chair of the International Wolf Center.

The Center noted that wolves have slightly expanded their Minnesota range southward and westward into more agricultural areas, and that at least one disperser made it into eastern North Dakota, where it was killed. Another Wisconsin wolf dispersed into Illinois, where it was found dead. This may well be the fate of most of the wolves that occupy more settled areas.

The Center said the USFWS closely monitors wolf populations in this three-state area using the following criteria to determine if wolf numbers are in trouble:

  • A decline that reduces the combined Wisconsin-Michigan winter wolf population estimate to 200 or fewer wolves (excluding Isle Royale and the Lower Peninsula)
  • A decline that brings either the Wisconsin or the Michigan (excluding Isle Royale and the Lower Peninsula) wolf estimate to 100 or fewer wolves; and
  • A decline that brings the Minnesota winter wolf population estimate to 1,500 or fewer wolves.

All three states’ wolf populations are considerably higher than these criteria.

Problems with disease and parasites have remained stable among wolves since their delisting, according to the report. Within the three-state area, the number of wolves killed for depredation control decreased, led by Minnesota showing a drop from 295 in 2012 to 127 in 2013.

Rob Schultz, executive director of the Center said, “Especially now, during National Wolf Awareness Week, we’re very interested in the update on factors affecting wolf populations, including habitat, weather, human take, depredation, mortality, and wolf prey.”

The ongoing studies of wolf populations are helpful to citizens, decision makers, biologists and researchers. Schultz continued, “This encouraging report and other educational and research efforts boost our knowledge as we learn how to better co-exist with this highly social and charismatic wild animal.”

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER – Learn about the International Wolf Center at The Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the nation’s premier source for wolf education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. The Center educates through its Web site,, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, on-site adventure and outreach programs and International Wolf magazine. The educational facility is located at 1396 Highway 169, Ely, Minnesota, 55731. (Phone: 218-365-4695), and the Center’s Administrative and Outreach offices are at 3410 Winnetka Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55427.