If federal protections are removed for wolves, what’s next?

International Wolf Center will follow potential effects of delisting wolves from Endangered Species Act

Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 225


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — The protected status of gray wolves across the United States may soon change, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday. If wolves are federally delisted they will be managed by each state, likely paving the way for wolf hunting to resume in states with large wolf populations.

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced the proposal Wednesday at a wildlife conference in Denver. A public comment period will follow before any final decisions can be made on the proposed change.

Wolves are listed in the Endangered Species Act and are federally protected throughout the 48 contiguous states except for a few western states where Congress delisted them (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, eastern Oregon and eastern Washington). Oregon, Washington and California protect their wolves by state law.

State wildlife officials estimate that wolves number approximately 2,650 in Minnesota, and another 1,500 live between Wisconsin and Michigan. Wolves were to be delisted when the population reached 1,250 for five years in Minnesota and 100 between Wisconsin and Michigan, but court battles have kept wolves returning to the endangered species list.

Should delisting occur, what is next for wolves in these three states? The International Wolf Center, based in Minnesota, will consult with biologists across the states to keep people informed about the potential effects of this delisting. Some of the questions the Center will pose to biologists are:

  • How could current state management policies change after the delisting?
  • How would removing the gray wolf from endangered or threatened status impact other species in their ecosystems?
  • How could transferring management of gray wolves to the states impact the future of wolf populations in neighboring states where populations are low or non-existent?
  • What does delisting mean for humans, livestock and pets that come in conflict with wolves?
  • What threats to wolf populations would come into play?
  • What wolf-free wildlands might allow for additional wolf population expansion?
  • How would this change impact human tolerance of wolves where wolf-human conflict has been more frequent?


The International Wolf Center advocates on behalf of wolves through education – reaching an audience of nearly two million people annually who visit its website, discover its education center in Ely, Minnesota, read “International Wolf” magazine, or participate in its many outreach or interactive classroom experiences. To remain effective in being a source for science-based information about wolves, the Center does not take positions in matters of wolf management—but rather, encourages public dialogue and understanding of these often complex and controversial issues.

While education may not translate into immediate action, it does result in re-evaluation and change. As people gain knowledge and appreciation of wolves and their place as predators in the ecosystem, they become interested in wolf survival and recovery. Decades of research have unveiled the bioscience of this species. That research, used in public education, has motivated people to allow wolves to begin reclaiming portions of their former habitat, and has generated considerable public support for these engaging animals. The Center’s passion for wolves is at work throughout the world every day through the millions of people who have become inspired and involved as a result of its outreach and education initiatives.

Education is one of the most effective ways to influence public attitudes, and that’s critical to the future survival of wolf populations.

With that in mind, the Center is asking its members and the public to share what they value about wolves. The responses gathered may be published on Facebook, on wolf.org or in International Wolf magazine.

Click this link to share your comments with us: bit.ly/wolfvalues.

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future.

For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit www.wolf.org.