Gray Wolf Timeline for the Contiguous United States

  • 2020

    October – The USFWS announced it was removing gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act.

    Summer – Evidence showed wolves were reproducing again on Isle Royale.

    April – The wolf population in Washington state grew by an estimated 11 percent, or 19 animals. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates the state has an 145 wolves in 26 packs.

  • 2019

    (March) A proposal was submitted by the USFWS to delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 states (except the Mexican wolf subspecies) due to recovery.

    (March/April) Efforts continued to translocate wolves to Isle Royale. Wolves that remained on Michipicoten Island were among those moved to Isle Royale.


  • 2018

    (January) Discussions continue about the possibility of formally reintroducing wolves in Colorado. Among the meetings held to discuss the option was one at Colorado State University. In a press release about the discussion, CSU staff members wrote: “It’s a long-lived debate between ecological restoration and social tolerance. Wolves may be coming naturally; do we wait and fend them off or do we intentionally reintroduce and learn to coexist?”

    MN DNR estimates there are 2,650 wolves in Minnesota.

    A record number of Mexican wolves were found dead in 2018. Five Mexican wolves were found dead in New Mexico in November alone, bringing the 11-month total to 17. That’s the most killed in any single year since the reintroduction began in 1998.

  • 2017

    (January) United States congressman Collin Peterson was one of 14 members of Congress who introduced a bill to delist wolves from Endangered Species Act protections in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming. It was known as H.R. 424.

    (February) The Mexican gray wolf population rebounded to hit an estimated 113 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. (April) Wolves were removed from the endangered species list in Wyoming in April. Management of the species was turned over to the State of Wyoming.

    (June) A draft recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves was released in June by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

    (August) A federal appeals court ruled against the Interior Department’s 2011 decision to delist gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The Court of Appeals ruled that regulators failed in their analysis of the act when they decided to remove protections for wolves in nine states.

    (October) Wyoming’s wolf hunt began. MN DNR estimates there are 2,856 wolves in MN.

    (December) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its first revision of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.


  • 2016

    (January) The United States Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee voted to permanently end Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states.

    (November) State wildlife officials in California confirmed the existence of a pack living in Lassen County in the state’s northeastern area.

  • 2015

    (February) Legislation was introduced in the United States House of Representatives to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states (Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin).

    (August) Gray wolves returned to California for the first time in nearly a century. They became known as the Shasta Pack.

    (November) The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted in November to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act. More than 100 people testified at the meeting.


  • 2014

    (June) The California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect wolves under the state Endangered Species Act.

    (September) Wolves were placed back on the endangered species list in Wyoming. Since their delisting in 2012, approximately 219 wolves were killed under Wyoming’s management plan. (December) Wisconsin and Minnesota’s wolf hunting seasons recorded 154 and 272 wolves killed, respectively.

    (December) Wolves in the Great Lakes region (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan) were placed back under protection on the Endangered Species Act after a federal court decision.

  • 2013

    (January) MN’s first regulated wolf season closes with a total harvest of 413 wolves.

    (February) The Humane Society of the United States (and others) filed suit against the USFWS regarding 2011 WGL DPS delisting. (June) USFWS proposes to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the remainder of the United States and Mexico, while maintaining protection for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest. This action has no impact on the NRM or WGL populations. USFWS proposes a revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican wolf.

    (September-November) State-run wolf hunting seasons begin in the fall. (November) MI’s first, regulated, annual wolf season begins.

    (December) More than one million people opposed the delisting of wolves from the endangered species list during a public comment period in December.

    (December) Minnesota’s second-ever wolf hunting season ended in December with 237 wolves killed. In Wisconsin, the second regulated season ended in December with 257 wolves killed.


  • 2012

    (January) WGL DPS management transferred to states.

    (January) MN Legislature introduces four bills outlining a fall 2012 wolf hunting/trapping season; (May) MN’s first regulated wolf hunting/trapping season signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton; (November) MN’s first regulated, annual wolf season begins. (April) WI Gov. Scott Walker signs Act 169 into law allowing the WI DNR to begin information gathering to plan and implement a fall wolf hunting/trapping season;

    (October) WI’s first regulated, annual wolf season begins;

    (December) WI first regulated season closes with a total harvest of 117. WY delisted along with rest of NRM DPS; state management takes effect;

    (October) WY hosts its first regulated, annual wolf hunting season with a total of 42 wolves killed. Center for Biological Diversity files intent to sue for violations of the ESA;

    (December) Center for Biological Diversity files a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the determination made by USFWS that listing the Mexican wolf as a subspecies or “distinct population segment” is not warranted;

    (November) WildEarth Guardians file a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief to compel the USFWS to produce documents and records in connection with two Freedom of Information Act requests.

    (November) Center for Biological Diversity files a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief to compel USFWS to conclude a formal rulemaking to amend a federal regulation promulgated in 1998 under the ESA that governs the Mexican wolf reintroduction program;

    (December) Center for Biological Diversity files intent to sue alleging violations of the ESA in connection with the renewed and amended Research and Recovery Permit for the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and the associated Intra-Service Biological and Concurrence Opinion.

  • 2011

    (May) USFWS proposal to delist WGL DPS, revise the gray wolf listing by removing 29 other states from gray wolf range, and announcement of a National Wolf Strategy;

    (August) Comment period reopens on proposal to delist WGL DPS; (December) Final Rule to delist the WGL DPS – Revising the listing of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the WGL apart from the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon).

    (July) Minnesota Legislature removed the five-year waiting period for developing a wolf season through legislation in 2011;

    (late 2011) In anticipation of delisting in January 2012,DNR first begins discussing the design of a potential regulated public hunting and trapping season for wolves. Congress reinstitutes 2009 rule delisting the NRM DPS except WY (This final rule implements legislative language included in the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations bill); WY Governor Matt Mead, USFWS Director Dan Ashe and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar develop a wolf management plan for Wyoming that all parties agree on;

    (October) USFWS announces delisting of wolves in WY. ID and MT again implement regulated, annual wolf seasons.

    (February) Anti-wolf advocates stipulate to voluntarily dismiss the Mexican wolf case without prejudice as to the Federal Defendants. USFWS appoints an 11-member Interdiction Fund Stakeholder council (ISC); ISC developed an interim program to compensate livestock producers for wolf depredations; Mexican Wolf Recovery Team holds three full-team meetings.


  • 2010

    (April) USFWS invites comment on applications for permits for lethal wolf control MI and WI.

    (August) Anti-wolf advocates file a lawsuit against the USFWS for violations of federal rules, specifically claiming the violations of enabling rules and alterations to the program; (December) NM Dept of Game and Fish’s motion to dismiss was granted but the case remained open through 2010 (see 2011 for update).

    (August) USFWS announces a positive 90-day finding on two petitions to list the Mexican wolf as a subspecies;

    (October) Pursuant to the court-approved settlement agreements, USFWS announces a 12-month finding on the two petitions, stating the petitioned action was not warranted because all of the individuals that comprise the petitioned entity already receive the protections of the Endangered Species Act. A new Memorandum of Understanding is signed. The Southwest Region initiated the revision of the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.

    In (December) 2010, USFWS charged a new recovery team with the development of a revised recovery plan for the Mexican wolf: includes a Tribal Liaisons Subgroup, Stakeholder Liaisons Subgroup, Agency Liaisons Subgroup, and a Science and Planning Subgroup.

  • 2009

    (January 14) USFWS announcement to delist wolves in the WGL DPS;

    (January 20) Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, directed federal agencies to withdraw all regulations that had not been published in the Federal Register so that they can be reviewed and approved by a department or agency head appointed by the President. Therefore, the final rule to delist the WGL DPS was withdrawn to allow for further review;

    (March) Secretary Salazar affirms decision to delist WGL DPS and a portion of the NRM DPS; (April) Final rule to delist published;

    (July) Final rule withdrawn for public comment; (September) Reinstatement of protections for wolves in the WGL DPS. (Fall) ID and MT implement first, regulated wolf seasons under state management.

    (September) USFWS establishes the Mexican Wolf / Livestock Interdiction Trust Fund (Interdiction Fund) to generate long-term funding for prolonged financial support to livestock operators within the framework of conservation and recovery of Mexican gray wolf populations in the Southwest. The court denied the USFWS’s motion to dismiss lawsuits;

    (December) the USFWS and the plaintiffs finalized settlement in a Consent Decree.


  • 2008

    (February) USFWS releases post-delisting monitoring plan for wolves in the WGL DPS;

    (September-December) Federal district judge vacates final rule to delist the gray wolf in the WGL DPS; (December) Release of Dept of Interior Solicitor’s Opinion in response to the judge’s ruling.

    (February 21) USFWS files the rule that would remove gray wolves in NRM DPS from the federal endangered species list;

    (March 28) Delisting rule becomes final and states assume full responsibility for wolves under state management; (April 28) 12 conservation and animal rights groups file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the USFWS’s decision to delist the NRM DPS, and request a preliminary injunction staying the delisting until the lawsuit is settled.

    (May 22) ID Fish and Game Commission adopts proposed wolf hunting seasons and rules for fall 2008.

    (July 18) Federal district judge issues a preliminary injunction that returns wolves in ID to endangered species protection and puts hunting seasons on hold.

    (September 17) USFWS withdraws the final rule that delisted wolves in NRM DPS. WildEarth Guardians and the Rewilding Institute file suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of AZ alleging failure to meet the requirement of Section 10(j) of the ESA. Defenders of Wildlife and ten other conservation and non-governmental organizations file suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of AZ alleging violations of federal rules in creating AMOC and authorizing Standard Operating Procedure 13, which requires permanent removal of wolves that have engaged in three livestock depredation incidents during a one-year period.

    (July) court consolidated the two cases due to their similarity. From July 28 through October 20, 2008, the parties filed briefs in response to the USFWS’s motion to dismiss. At year’s end, the court was still considering the motion to dismiss.

  • 2007

    (February) Gray wolves in the WGL DPS are delisted. The final decision to delist the WGL DPS becomes effective March 12.

    (June) The USFWS’s post-delisting five-year monitoring plan for the WGL DPS available for review and comment.

    (February) USFWS proposes rule to establish and delist wolves in the NRM DPS.

    (August) USFWS holds scoping meetings in 12 AZ and NM communities receiving approximately 13,500 written comments from the public, non-governmental organizations and government agencies at the local, state and federal levels; In response, USFWS hosted a welcome and kick-off meeting in Albuquerque, NM

    (September) for parties that had requested or obtained cooperating agency status on the EIS (attended by 35 people representing four military organizations, fifteen Arizona and New Mexico counties, four federal agencies and one Native American tribe). Work is temporarily suspended on the EIS pending resolution of the nationwide status of the gray wolf and the status of the Mexican wolf. Forest Guardians and Sinapu (later merged and renamed “WildEarth Guardians”) issue a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue the Service for failure to actively further the conservation of Mexican gray wolf.


  • 2006

    (January 5) Memorandum of Agreement between ID and the U.S. Department of Interior signed by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and transferred authority for day-to-day wolf management to the state as agent for the USFWS under the revised 10(j) rule. USFWS proposes establishment of NRM DPS and delisting the DPS.

    (March) USFWS proposes to delist the gray wolf population of the WGL DPS;

    (May) Permits issued to MI and WI for use of lethal measures to control wolf depredations; (August) Judge rules against USFWS in court case brought by the Humane Society of the U.S. and others that challenged permits issued to MI and WI for use of lethal measures to control wolf depredations. Center for Biological Diversity files suit against USFWS alleging unreasonable delay in implementing Mexican wolf recovery plan.

  • 2005

    (January 3) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulation allows management of gray wolves for the states of MT and ID.

    (January 31) US district judges in Oregon and Vermont rules against the US Dept of Interior and USFWS on their plan to remove the wolf from the federal endangered species list; Federal classification returns to status prior to April 2003. Recovery planning for Mexican wolf put on hold.

    (December) Department of the Interior declines to appeal the Oregon and Vermont rulings. Courts rule in favor of USFWS in lawsuit by AZ and NM counties; lawsuit dismissed; AZ and NM counties file appeal. AMOC completes Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project five-year review, which includes 37 recommendations for improving management of the wolf reintroduction project; many would require changes to 1997 rule. MI and WI DNRs apply for permits to use lethal methods to control wolf depredation.


  • 2004

    USFWS holds public hearings on the proposal to delist the gray wolf in the Eastern DPS.

    USFWS oversight committee cooperators begin Blue Range Reintroduction Project five-year review; draft reports released to public for review and comment in December.

    Idaho’s and Montana’s post-delisting management plans approved.

  • 2003

    USFWS reclassifies gray wolf populations into three distinct population segments (DPSs): Eastern, Western and Southwestern.

    The Eastern and Western DPSs are classified as threatened and the Southwestern DPS is classified as endangered on the Endangered Species List.

    Defenders of Wildlife et al., files suit against the USFWS regarding the reclassification rule. Coalition of AZ and NM counties files suit alleging USFWS failed to consider impacts of hybridization or prepare supplemental environmental impact statement and violated the Freedom of Information Act by withholding documents.

    The San Carlos Apache Tribe enters into a cooperative agreement with the USFWS for monitoring and management.

    USFWS appoints and convenes the Southwestern DPS Gray Wolf Recovery Team to begin recovery planning for the newly established Southwestern DPS – this recovery plan will supersede the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.

    USFWS finalizes MOU with AZ Game and Fish Dept, NM Dept of Game and Fish, USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services, USDA Forest Service, White Mountain Apache Tribe, NM Dept of Agriculture, and several counties; it restructures the recovery program to allow states and tribes to implement the BRWRA reintroduction project while the USFWS maintains responsibility for recovery (MOU established an Adaptive Management Oversight Committee – AMOC and an Adaptive Management Working Group – AMWG).


  • 2002

    MI reclassifies the wolf from state-listed endangered species to a state-listed threatened species.

    NRM wolf recovery goals first met; the population has exceeded recovery goals for 10 consecutive years. White Mountain Apache Tribe signs on as a primary cooperator setting the stage for tribal land releases of Mexican wolves.

    A coalition of AZ and New Mexico (NM) counties file a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue for violations of federal rules alleging Mexican wolves are hybridizing with domestic dogs.

    San Carlos Apache Tribe passes a resolution to remove all Mexican wolves from the Reservation.

  • 2001

    A Ramsey County, MN judge dismisses the lawsuit that claimed that the MN state wolf management bill was passed through an illegal method of “log-rolling;”

    MN DNR sends its wolf management plan to the USFWS for review;

    Livestock depredations in MN at a 10 year low. Voyageurs National Park in MN, lifts a ban on snowmobile use of frozen bays within the park; Eight conservation and animal protection groups file suit in US District Court opposing the decision.

    A wolf, which was trapped and radio-collared in MI in 1999, dispersed to Missouri where it was mistaken for a coyote and killed.

    4 wolves confirmed shot in WI during the deer hunting season.

    USFWS completes three-year review of Mexican wolf recovery project; Scientists recommend program continues with no modifications; Congress directs USFWS to conduct an independent review of the review.


  • 2000

    MN DNR proposes a modified version of the roundtable’s wolf management plan; MN Legislature passes a bill containing an outline for wolf management; A group of environmental and wolf advocate organizations file a lawsuit claiming the wolf management bill for MN was passed through an illegal method of “log-rolling.”

    USFWS prepares an EIS for Translocation of Mexican Wolves Throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona and New Mexico 2000.

    White Mountain Apache Tribe enters into a cooperative agreement with the USFWS to allow wolves to inhabit the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, adding approximately 2,440 square miles to the recovery area.

    The Hawk’s Pack produces the first wild-conceived, wild-born Mexican wolf pup in the BRWRA.

    USFWS proposes to change the ESA status of gray wolves throughout most of the continental 48 U.S.

  • 1999

    WI DNR releases a wolf management plan then, the state reclassifies the wolf from a state-listed endangered species to a state-listed threatened species because the goal of 80 wolves had been maintained since 1995.

    The MN Legislature fails to pass the roundtable’s wolf management plan suggested by the MN DNR.

    Steven Kellert of Yale University completes a study of public attitudes towards wolves in MN.

    Courts rule USFWS complied with laws in New Mexico Cattle Growers Assoc lawsuit; lawsuit dismissed.


  • 1998

    MN DNR estimates 2,445 wolves during the winter of 1997-98, and wolf range around 88,325 square kilometers; MN DNR holds a series of public information meetings around the state to discuss the future of MN wolves; DNR organizes a 32-member roundtable group composed of people from all sides of the wolf issue and they produce a recommendation for wolf management. These recommendations were used by the MN DNR as they formed their wolf management plan.

    US Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt, announces intentions to begin plans to remove the wolf from the federal endangered species list in MN, WI and MI. USFWS publishes Mexican Wolf Final Rule in the federal register leading to the release of 11 captive-reared Mexican wolves into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA). (The captive population is 177)

    New Mexico Cattle Growers Association sues USFWS, alleging violations of federal laws in implementing the Mexican wolf reintroduction project. At year’s end, 4 wolves in 2 packs exist in the wild.

  • 1997

    (November) MN DNR begins a repeat of its 1988-89 extensive survey of wolf distribution and abundance in the state.

    MI DNR releases wolf recovery and management plan and estimates 112 wolves in at least 20 packs in MI’s Upper Peninsula and 24 wolves in 3 packs on Isle Royale.

    Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt rules in favor of USFWS reintroduction of captive-raised Mexican gray wolves in eastern Arizona (AAZ) within the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area; designates released wolves and their offspring as a nonessential population.


  • 1996

    The USFWS published their Vertebrate Population Policy which stated that existing populations can no longer be listed, reclassified, or delisted by political (for example state) boundaries.

    MN estimated there were between 2,000 and 2,200 wolves in the state.

    WI estimated their population at 99 wolves and Michigan estimated they had 116 wolves. Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee began developing a new wolf management plan.

    More wolves reintroduced into central ID and YNP.

    USFWS publishes proposed Mexican wolf experimental population rule in the Federal Register.

    USFWS releases final EIS on the Experimental Reintroduction of Mexican Wolves into Suitable Habitat within the Historic Range of the Subspecies.

  • 1995

    USFWS releases draft EIS for Mexican wolf recovery.

    WI and MI estimated their populations at 83 and 80 respectively.

    Both states started the 3 year count down towards state reclassification.

    Wolves reintroduced into central ID and YNP.


  • 1994

    WI and MI estimate they have 57 wolves each. Their combined estimate of over 100 wolves outside of MN begins the 5 year countdown to delisting the eastern timber wolf as suggested in the 1992 Recovery Plan.

    Experimental population rule finalized for NRM wolf recovery facilitating reintroduction of wolves into central ID and YNP.

  • 1992

    The Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan is updated.

    MI forms a wolf recovery team and later publishes a recovery plan.

    WI Wolf Advisory Committee formed to oversee wolf recovery and develop a wolf management plan which includes criteria for reclassification.

    USFWS issues Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Experimental Reintroduction of Mexican Wolves into Suitable Habitat within the Historic Range of the Subspecies.


  • 1991

    The first documented observation of wolves reproducing in the Upper Peninsula of MI since the 1950’s (MI wolf population estimated at 17).

  • 1990

    A long range plan by MN DNR calls for: maintaining at least 1,000 to 1,200 wolves through 1992, expanding recreational use and understanding of wolves, and assisting other states in establishing wolf populations.

    Wolf Action Group files lawsuit against the USFWS alleging failure to implement the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan; USFWS hires a Mexican Wolf Recovery coordinator to implement recovery.


  • 1989

    Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Plan initiated with a goal of 80 wolves in 10 packs for 3 consecutive years. (Downlisting is to occur when this goal is met)

  • 1988

    MN DNR estimates that there were between 1,500 and 1,750 wolves in 233 packs in the state and that wolf range is estimated at about 25,000 square miles.


  • 1987

    WI closes coyote hunting during the state’s firearm deer hunting season in the northern portion of the state to reduce the number of wolves killed mistakenly.

    Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan revised.

  • 1986

    Federal wolf depredation activities transferred from the USFWS to the Department of Agriculture, Animal Damage Control (now USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services).

    WI DNR creates a Wolf Recovery Team to develop a state wolf recovery plan.

    First, naturally recolonizing wolf pack (Magic Pack) dens in Glacier National Park, MT.


  • 1985-92

    A series of studies suggested that human-caused wolf mortality, as indexed by road density and thus human access, was the primary factor limiting the distribution and abundance of wolves in the Western Great Lakes.

  • 1984

    A court order prohibited the proposed trapper harvest of wolves in MN; The USFWS retained management authority.


  • 1983

    The USFWS recommends that trappers in MN be allowed to take 50 wolves to supplement the depredation control program and that the control program be handed over to the state.

  • 1982

    The Mexican wolf recovery plan is completed with goals to maintain a captive breeding program and re-establish a population of 100 Mexican wolves within their historic range.


  • 1980s

    Canine parvovirus becomes wide-spread in the Western Great Lakes (WGL) region. It is later suspected that parvo caused a drastic decline in the wolf population on Isle Royale and possibly throughout the region.

  • 1980

    MN DNR prepares a wolf management plan and proposed taking wolf management back from the USFWS. The government turned down the proposal.

    Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Wolf Recovery Plan completed.


  • 1979

    USFWS creates Mexican Wolf Recovery Team. WI begins intensive monitoring of wolves and estimates 25 wolves in the state during the winter of 1979-80.

  • 1977-80

    Five wild, Mexican wolves thought to be last remaining were captured in Mexico and placed in captivity to establish a captive breeding program.


  • 1978

    USFWS reclassifies gray wolf subspecies in contiguous U.S. to reflect current taxonomic classification of subspecies by listing at the species level: Canis lupus, and determines critical habitat in MN and MI; Gray wolves in MN downlisted from endangered status to threatened status; This change allowed the USFWS to lethally remove wolves in areas of MN where wolves had killed livestock.

    The Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan was published; It called for 5 wolf management zones in MN, the reestablishment of wolves elsewhere, a limited public harvest in MN.

    MN wolf population estimated at 1,200. MN Legislature enacts a state compensation program to pay livestock owners for losses from wolf depredation.

    The first documentation reproduction in a Wisconsin wolf pack since the mid-1950s was recorded.

  • 1976

    The Mexican gray wolf, Canis lupus baileyi, listed under the ESA.


  • 1975

    The documented presence of a few single wolves in WI since the 1950s prompted the state to list the eastern timber wolf as a state endangered species.

    A joint team of Federal and State personnel and biologists devise a Wolf Recovery Plan for MN wolves.

    The USFWS initiated a program to control wolf depredations in MN, which involved moving wolves from areas where they had killed livestock.

  • 1974

    Four wolves were captured in MN and released in MI’s Upper Peninsula by the USFWS; The reintroduction failed due to human-caused mortality to the wolves.

    Public harvest of wolves in MN ended.

    (August) The gray wolf became legally protected under the ESA in the lower 48 States and Mexico.

    Individual subspecies receive endangered status: eastern timber wolf, Canis lupus lycaon (present in the Western Great Lakes) and Rocky Mountain wolf, Canis lupus irremotus (possibly present in the Northern Rocky Mountains).


  • 1973

    The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) was enacted into law by the US Congress, implemented by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

  • 1970

    The Superior National Forest (MN) was closed to the taking of wolves on federal land; Private and state lands, including frozen lake surfaces inside and outside of the forest, were still open to wolf harvest.

    There were an estimated 750 wolves existing in MN, no wolves in WI, possibly scattered individuals in the Upper Peninsula of MI, and 18 wolves on Isle Royale.

    Quebec’s wolf bounties ended in 1971 and Ontario in 1972.

    Overall, 20,000 wolves were bountied between 1935-1955 in British Columbia, 12,000 between 1942-1955 in Alberta and 33,000 between 1947-1971 in Ontario.


  • 1969-74

    MN DNR conducted a Directed Predator Control Program and an average of 64 wolves were killed annually for depredating on livestock; The program provided a $50 incentive to designated trappers taking wolves in certain areas.

  • 1967

    The timber wolf was listed as “endangered’ in the contiguous United States under a 1966 federal Endangered Species Preservation Act. This act only provided limited protection on federal lands.


  • 1966-73

    Around 200 wolves were harvested annually in MN.

  • 1965

    Michigan gave the wolf complete protection under state law.

    Last bounty ($35) was paid on a wolf in MN and bounty system was ended.

    The timber wolf was thought to occur in only three percent of its former range in the US outside of Alaska.


  • 1960-65

    171-211 wolves had been submitted for bounty each year in MN.

  • 1960s

    This was considered by many to be the low point for wolf numbers in the lower 48 states. The only remaining wolves were in extreme northeastern MN (350-700) and on Isle Royale (about 20 in 1963).


  • 1960

    Wolves considered extirpated from WI.

    Bounty system repealed in MI; The number of wolves bountied in the state had been decreasing: 1956 = 30, 1958 = 7, and 1 = 1959.

  • 1958

    Formal monitoring program for wolves on Isle Royale began.


  • 1957

    The bounty system ended in WI and wolves became totally protected under state law.

  • 1956

    MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ended a wolf control program that included aerial shooting. About 190 wolves had been taken by various methods each year since 1953.


  • 1953-59

    The number of wolves taken by bounty in MN ranged from 122 to 252 annually (average 189).

    Up to 17,500 wolves were poisoned in Canada between 1955 to 1961. In the mid-50s, wolf bounties were dropped in the western provinces in favor of hiring provincial hunters.

  • 1950-52

    It was estimated there were 450-700 wolves in northern MN and an average of 253 wolves were taken annually under the state’s bounty system.


  • 1950

    It was estimated that only 50 wolves remained in extreme northern WI.

  • 1940s

    In 1949 wolves arrived on Isle Royale, MI. In Canada, a government backed wolf extermination program was initiated in 1948 after serious declines in caribou herds in the Northern Territories and a rabies concern due to wolves migrating south near populated areas.


  • 1930

    150 wolves estimated to inhabit WI.

  • 1922-35

    State trapping system created in MI; Bounty stopped during this period but reinstated in 1935.

    The last wolf is killed in YNP.


  • 1915

    (July 1) US government hires its first government wolf hunters; Before being disbanded on June 30, 1942, the U.S government hunters killed over 24,132 wolves. YNP wolf extirpation begins.

  • 1913

    Law in WY stipulated penalty of $300 for freeing a wolf from a trap.


  • 1905

    Elk used as livestock guarding animals for sheep in Arkansas.

  • 1900

    At the turn of the century, wolves were rare in southern and western Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and Michigan, and all of the eastern U.S.


  • 1884

    Bounty system started in Montana (MT).

  • 1875

    Bounty system started in Wyoming (WY).


  • 1872

    Yellowstone National Park (YNP) created to protect wildlife from “wanton destruction.” This protection was not extended to wolves and other predators. Ungulate slaughter for use in predator poisoning continues.

  • 1869

    Bounty system started in established Colorado.


  • 1865

    Bounty system started in Wisconsin (WI) – $5/wolf.

  • 1858

    Bounty system started in Iowa.


  • 1850-80

    Era of the “Wolfers” – professional and civilian wolf hunters. Demand for wolf pelts increased as a result of beaver population decimation. Wolfers preferred poison to traps and killed bison, elk and other animals for bait. It is estimated that 100,000 wolves were killed per year between 1870 and 1877.

  • 1849

    Bounty system started in Minnesota (MN) – $3/wolf.


  • 1843

    Bounty system started in early Texas and Colorado.

  • 1838

    Bounty system started in Michigan (MI).


  • 1818

    “War of Extermination” in Ohio declared against bears and wolves.

  • 1644-45

    Some Massachusetts residents could get either three quarts of wine or a bushel of corn for killing a wolf.


  • 1630

    First bounty on wolves in European settlements: Settlers in Massachusetts Bay Colony pass laws offering cash reward to any resident that kills a wolf; Other colonies followed suit. The original was originally one penny.